Twitter report shows rise in govt requests

Last updated 15:50 01/08/2014

WATCH THE BIRDY: Requests to remove content from Twitter have risen 14 per cent, and copyright notices have risen 27 per cent.

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This post was originally published on Mashable.

Twitter has released its biannual transparency report, revealin a 46 per cent increase in government requests for user information.

The report, which includes government information requests, removal requests and copyright notices from January through June 2014, shows how governments around the world increasingly use Twitter to get information about users. Here are some of the noteworthy findings.


The first half of 2014, for instance, saw a rise in information requests from governments, which Twitter says typically come in connection with criminal investigations.

There were 2058 requests from January 1 to June 30, marking a 46 per cent increase over the second half of last year. The requests affect 48 per cent more Twitter users than in the previous report.

"The continued rise may be attributed to Twitter’s ongoing international expansion, but also appears to follow the industry trend,” Twitter states in its report. “As always, we continue to fight to provide notice to affected users when we’re not otherwise prohibited”

The majority of those requests came from - you guessed it - the United States, which led the pack with 1257 information requests. Twitter handed over the information 72 per cent of the time.

Japan and Saudi Arabia also stood out in the report, requesting information 192 times and 189 times, respectively. Brazil, Spain and Turkey all more than doubled the volume of their previous information requests, Twitter notes in the report, with Brazil submitting more than three times as many as before (an increase from 20 to 77).


Information aside, Twitter also deals with a handful of governments that request the company remove or withhold content. There were 432 requests in the January 2014 - June 2014 period, from a total of 31 countries.

Turkey, it seems, is the biggest fan of this particular action.

The country led the pack with 186 removal requests. Over 60 of them, Twitter says, were stated “violations of personal rights and defamation of both private citizens and government officials.”

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France, with 108, was not too far behind.

On at least two occasions the company refused the requests - one being a government ban and the other a court order. The company also successfully fought a request from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to remove blasphemous content. Over 20 accounts and 15 tweets were initially blocked but later restored.


Twitter received over 9000 copyright takedown notices in the January - June 2014 period, an increase of 27 per cent over the previous reporting period. The requests affected nearly 10,000 accounts resulting in 30,000 tweets that were withheld from the service, and 15,000 media (photos, videos).

The affected accounts, Twitter says, includes both Twitter and Vine, and that users are provided with instructions on filing a counter notice should they wish to appeal.

Just a handful of companies are responsible for a quarter of all takedown notices: Remove Your Media, NetResult, Irdeto, Copyright Integrity and Ennovva lead the pack. Remove Your Media, in particular, is the most aggressive. They’re behind 12.2 per cent of all requests.


Twitter's transparency report was first introduced in July 2012, inspired by Google's similar efforts.

The stated goals, Twitter's Jeremy Kessel wrote at the time, were to shed more light on government requests for user information, government requests to withhold content and DMCA takedown notices from copyright holders.

It was, Kessel stated, "an important part of keeping the Tweets flowing."

Mashable is the largest independent news source covering digital culture, social media and technology.


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