21% increase in account information requests from govts: Twitter

Twitter received nearly 21 per cent more information requests for account information from the governments and law enforcement agencies worldwide in the July-December 2019 period compared to the previous reporting period.

The micro-blogging platform that reimagined its biannual transparency report site into a comprehensive Twitter Transparency Centre said that the aggregate number of accounts specified in these requests increased by nearly 63 per cent.

“The total volume of requests and specified accounts are respectively the largest we’ve seen to date since our transparency reporting began in 2012. We received government information requests from 91 different countries since 2012,” it said in a statement late on Wednesday.

Information requests from the US continue to make up the highest percentage of legal requests for account information.

During this reporting period, 26 per cent of all global requests for account information originated within the US.

The second highest volume of requests originate from Japan, comprising 22 per cent of global information requests.

“We often receive non-government information requests to disclose account information of anonymous or pseudonymous Twitter accounts (requests to “unmask” the identity of the individual), which we frequently object to.

Twitter objected to 23 US civil requests for account information that sought to unmask the identities of anonymous speakers on first amendment grounds during this reporting period.

“We ended up litigating six of these requests. Twitter prevailed in four cases, lost one, and one is still pending. No information was produced in response to the other 17 requests”.

In this reporting period, Twitter received 27,538 legal demands to remove content specifying 98,595 accounts.

This is the largest number of requests and specified accounts it received since releasing its first Transparency Report in 2012.

“This record number of legal demands originated from 51 different countries. 86 per cent of the total global volume of legal demands originated from only three countries: Japan, Russia, and Turkey,” Twitter said.

The new Twitter Transparency Centre offers all disclosed data in one place and data visualizations, making it easier to compare trends over time.

The Twitter archive of state-backed information operations is being used by researchers, journalists and experts around the world which now spans more than 9 terabytes of media, includes over 83,000 accounts, and over 200 million Tweets and is an industry-first resource.

Twitter said it removed 86,799 unique accounts for promoting terrorism and violent extremism in the reporting period. Nearly 74 per cent of the unique accounts were proactively suspended using its internal, proprietary tools.

There were 257,768 unique accounts suspended during this reporting period for violating Twitter policies prohibiting child sexual exploitation.

“Hateful conduct expanded to include a new dehumanization policy on July 9, 2019. There was a 54 per cent increase in the number of accounts actioned for violations of our hateful conduct policy during this reporting period,” Twitter informed.

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