Twitter sees jump in govt demands to remove content of journalists, news outlets

Published July 14, 2021
Twitter declined to elaborate on which countries submitted the demands, or how many of the legal demands pertaining to journalists or news outlets the platform complied with. — AFP/File
Twitter declined to elaborate on which countries submitted the demands, or how many of the legal demands pertaining to journalists or news outlets the platform complied with. — AFP/File

Twitter Inc saw a surge in demands over the course of last year from governments around the world to take down content posted by journalists and news outlets, data to be released by the social media platform for the first time will show.

In its transparency report to be published on Wednesday and a copy of which was seen by Reuters, Twitter said verified accounts of 199 journalists and news outlets on its platform globally were subject to 361 legal demands from governments to remove content in the second half of 2020, an increase of 26 per cent from the first half of the year.

It declined to elaborate on which countries submitted the demands, or how many of the legal demands pertaining to journalists or news outlets the platform complied with.

The new details in Twitter's biannual report on its enforcement of policy rules and the information and removal requests it receives come as Twitter and other social media companies including Facebook and Alphabet’s YouTube are facing scrutiny from governments around the world over the content allowed on their platforms.

On Monday, Cuba began restricting access to Facebook and messaging apps like Telegram amid widespread anti-government protests. Last month, Nigeria banned Twitter's service from the country and ordered television and radio stations not to use the platform to gather information.

Twitter said in the report that India was now the single largest source of all information requests from governments during the second half of 2020, overtaking the United States, which was second in the volume of requests.

The company said globally it received over 14,500 requests for information between July 1 and Dec 31, and it produced some or all of the information in response to 30pc of the requests.

Such information requests can include governments or other entities asking for the identities of people tweeting under pseudonyms.

Twitter also received more than 38,500 legal demands to take down various content, which was down 9pc from the first half of 2020, and said it complied with 29pc of the demands.

Twitter has been embroiled in several conflicts with countries around the world, most notably India over the government's new rules aimed at regulating content on social media. Last week, the company said it had hired an interim chief compliance officer in India and would appoint other executives in order to comply with the rules.

In the updated transparency report, Twitter added that the number of impressions, or views of a tweet, that violated Twitter's rules accounted for less than 0.1pc of impressions for all tweets globally in the second half of 2020, the first time the platform has released such data.

Like other social media companies, Twitter has struggled to police hate speech, misinformation and other abuses on its service, with Chief Executive Jack Dorsey among the tech leaders who appeared in a hearing before Congress in March on misinformation.

Major social media companies were most recently under fire this week over racist abuse on their platforms directed at Black players on England's football team.

Opinion

Who benefits more?
Updated 03 Aug 2021

Who benefits more?

It’s been widely assumed that China was always going to secure the most benefits.
Back to the future
Updated 02 Aug 2021

Back to the future

A civil war next door would pose serious threats to Pakistan’s security and multidimensional challenges.

Editorial

03 Aug 2021

Changing GB’s status

THE government’s plans to accord a provisional provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan are progressing steadily and...
Taliban assault
03 Aug 2021

Taliban assault

Intra-Afghan peace talks should be promoted, but the global community must be ready for the imminent collapse of the Afghan state.
03 Aug 2021

Cancelling Aurat March

THE cancellation of Aurat March Faisalabad is exactly one of those ‘isolated incidents’ which, when viewed...
02 Aug 2021

Row over NCSW

SOME matters are simply too important to play politics on. Protection of women’s rights is one of them....
02 Aug 2021

Mismanaging LNG

PAKISTAN’S purchase of expensive LNG cargoes for the September-October delivery in less than three weeks after...
Against their will
Updated 02 Aug 2021

Against their will

Estimates indicate that some 1,000 girls from minority communities are forcibly converted to Islam every year in Pakistan.