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Twitter experiences increase in global government demands for censorship and data on users

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According to a transparency report released by Twitter, demands from governments for the removal of content from news outlets and journalists significantly increased in 2020.

In the transparency report published Wednesday, in the last half of 2020, Twitter said governments sent 361 legal content removal demands for content published by the verified accounts of 199 news outlets and journalists. That was a 26% increase from the first half of 2020.

The platform said, from the 361 content removal demands, it only removed five tweets. The report claims that most of the removal requests were sent by India’s government, followed by Turkey, Pakistan, and Russia. This was the first time India surpassed the USA in content removal demands.

In 2020, Twitter clashed with India over the government’s new social media policies and content removal demands during the farmers’ protests. Last week, the platform announced it had employed an interim chief compliance officer for India and would soon add other executives to help with compliance of laws in the southeast Asia country.

The report also revealed that Twitter received over 14,500 requests for information globally, in the same period. The platform claims to have complied with 30% of the requests for information, which includes governments and other organizations requesting for the identities of individuals using pseudonyms to tweet.

In the same period, Twitter received 38,500 legal content takedown requests; a 9% decrease compared to the first half of 2020. The platform claims to have complied with 29% of the requests.

Like other Big Tech platforms, Twitter has struggled with the implementation of its content moderation policies, with some accusing the platform of suppressing free speech and others accusing it of not doing enough to tackle so-called hate speech, harassment, and misinformation. Alongside Facebook, in the past few days, Twitter has faced backlash for the recent online harassment of three black players in England’s national soccer team by anonymous troll users and bots.

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