SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 2 August 2021, Monday |

Twitter sees jump in government demands to remove content of journalists

According to data set to be revealed for the first time by Twitter Inc, the social media platform received an increase in requests from governments around the world to remove content posted by journalists and news outlets during the course of last year.

Twitter said verified accounts of 199 journalists and news outlets on its platform were subject to 361 legal demands from governments to remove content in the second half of 2020, up 26% from the first half of the year, according to its transparency report, a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters.

It declined to elaborate on which countries submitted the demands, or how many of the legal demands pertaining to journalists or news outlets the platform complied with.

The new information in Twitter’s biannual report on its enforcement of policy rules and the information and removal requests it receives comes at a time when governments around the world are scrutinizing the content allowed on their platforms, including Facebook and Alphabet’s YouTube.

In the wake of significant antigovernmental rallies, Cuba began blocking access to Facebook and messaging applications like Telegram on Monday. Nigeria banned Twitter’s service from the country last month, instructing television and radio broadcasters not to utilize the network for news gathering.

Twitter said in the report India was now the single largest source of all information requests from governments during the second half of 2020, overtaking the United States, which was second in the volume of requests.

The company said globally it received over 14,500 requests for information between July 1 and Dec. 31, and it produced some or all of the information in response to 30% of the requests.

Governments and other organisations may make such requests for information, such as the names of persons who use pseudonyms on Twitter.

In addition, Twitter received over 38,500 legal orders to remove diverse content, down 9% from the first half of 2020, and stated it cooperated with 29% of the demands.

Twitter has had multiple run-ins with governments throughout the world, most notably with India over the government’s new legislation aimed at regulating social media content. In order to comply with the laws, the business announced last week that it had engaged an interim chief compliance officer in India and will employ other executives.

In the updated transparency report, Twitter added that the number of impressions, or views of a tweet, that violated Twitter’s rules accounted for less than 0.1% of impressions for all tweets globally in the second half of 2020, the first time the platform has released such data.

Twitter, like other social media businesses, has battled to regulate hate speech, misinformation, and other abuses on its platform, with CEO Jack Dorsey appearing in a congressional hearing on misinformation in March.

This week, major social media corporations came under fire for racist abuse thrown towards Black players on the England soccer team on their websites.