Twitter reports record number of government takedown requests

Deepak Gupta
Deepak Gupta January 26, 2022
Updated 2022/01/26 at 9:50 PM

Twitter received the most content removal demands from governments around the world from January to June 2021, the site revealed in its latest transparency report. To be more precise, it received 43,387 lawsuits involving 196,878 accounts. Twitter says these numbers represent the biggest increase in reported content and account takedown requests in a six-month reporting period from the time it began publishing transparency reports in 2012.

One factor that has contributed to the increase in reported accounts is the lawsuits filed by the Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. The agency flagged 102,363 accounts for posting sexual services and illegal adult content, and Twitter took action on 18,570 of them. Twitter also saw an increase in accounts withheld from the public due to content that allegedly violated Russia’s laws against incitement to suicide.

Last year, the Russian news agency Tass reported that the country’s internet authorities have threatened to block Twitter if it does not remove “incitement to suicide against minors, child pornography, as well as information about drug use” on its website. Authorities also slowed the loading speed of Twitter for desktop and mobile devices.

A total of 95% of the total global volume of legal claims came from five countries in particular, with Japan remaining the top applicant. Japan is responsible for 43% of the legal demands that Twitter has received, the majority being about narcotics and posts related to drugs, obscenity and financial crimes. The other four countries are Russia, Turkey, India and South Korea, in that order.

Based on the Twitter report, there is an upward trend in the number of legal demands that Twitter receives, with a big increase in the first half of 2020. It remains to be seen if these numbers will continue to increase, but the vice president of global public policy at Twitter Sinead McSweeney expressed her concerns in a statement: “We are facing unprecedented challenges as governments around the world increasingly try to intervene and remove content. This threat to privacy and freedom of expression is a deeply concerning trend that requires our full attention.”

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