SAN FRANCISCO: Twitter saw a jump in official requests to remove posts in the first half of this year, the company said Wednesday.
Removal requests were up 13 percent, with the largest volumes coming from Turkey and Russia, which have historically led the pack asking Twitter to get rid of content, according to a transparency report released by the US-based social media firm.
The requests typically concerned content deemed illegal by local law, Twitter said. Its report did not detail whether efforts to prevent extremists from using the platform to spread violent messages were a factor in the requests. Overall, Twitter received 4,434 requests for content removal from governments or police agencies during the first half of this year.
There were an additional 761 court orders, according to the report. The requests targeted a total of 20,594 accounts targeted, with no action taken on 15,195 of them, Twitter said. Officials in Turkey made 2,493 of the requests, while 1,601 came from Russia, it added. Requests came from 37 countries, with the United States making 98 requests, of which one were granted, the report said.
However, the United States led when it came to government requests for information about Twitter accounts. It made 2,520 account information requests, getting at least some of what it asked for in 82 percent of cases. “As Twitter, Inc. is based in San Francisco, California, the majority of global government requests for account information we receive continue to come from the United States,” the report noted.
The “top requesters” in the US were the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service and the New York County District Attorney’s Office. Japan was second when it came to asking for information, accounting for 732 of the overall 5,676 requests.
Britain, France and Turkey rounded out a list of the top five countries requesting Twitter information. Twitter noted a spurt in requests from Belgium, saying the rise was related to extremist attacks there early this year. The US National Security Agency chief said last week that he was “perplexed” over Twitter’s move to block US intelligence from accessing data that may help thwart violent attack plots.
NSA director Admiral Michael Rogers made the comments at a congressional hearing in response to Senator John McCain’s criticism of Twitter for refusing access to a real-time analytics service called Dataminr. Twitter has said it allows both government and business to use the data as long as it is not for “surveillance” purposes. Twitter, which owns a stake in Dataminr, did not want to appear to be too close to US intelligence, media reports have said.
“Due to privacy concerns, we have not authorized Dataminr or any third party to sell data to a government or intelligence agency for surveillance purposes,” Twitter said in a released statement at the time. -AFP