Twitter warned that governments around the world are increasing requests to remove content from the platform and to turn over private account information for its users.
Its latest biannual transparency report shows that during the last six months of 2021, the company received a record 47,572 legal demands on nearly 200,000 accounts.
Twitter saw a 103 percent increase in legal demands from governments targeting verified journalists and news outlets since the previous reporting period.
“We’re seeing governments become more aggressive in how they try to use legal tactics to unmask the people using our service, collect information about account owners and also using legal demands as a way to try and silence people,” Yoel Roth, the head of Twitter’s safety and integrity, said.
The company says that the number of government requests for information continues to increase throughout each reporting period.
“Twenty percent of all global requests for account information originated from the United States during this reporting period,” the report states. “These requests accounted for 39 percent of all accounts specified from around the world. Twitter complied, in whole or in part, with 69 percent of these U.S. information requests.”
Rob Mahoney, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, told the Associated Press that governments are escalating attempts to censor online content and silence critics.
“This surge in government demands for content takedowns and information on journalists is part of a global trend of increasing censorship and manipulation of information,” he said. “Social media platforms are vital for reporters and they must do more to resist government attempts to silence critical voices.”
Twitter says it will not report on requests for information related to national security processes because of limits imposed on the company by the U.S. government.
“We have been fighting for more transparency around this process for years, and continue to fight this issue in our court case, Twitter v. Garland, and are currently awaiting a decision on appeal,” the report says.
Lumen is the database in which the company uploads its legal requests. This system shows the top five requesting companies are:
- United States
Combined these five countries accounted for 79 percent of all global information requests, according to the report.
Requests are identified as either “routine” or “emergency.”
Twitter also provided data on its compliance rate with each type of request.