Twitter to scale down transparency reporting, India tops govt. information requests

The platform hasn’t published a detailed breakdown of government demands for information or takedowns since its takeover by Elon Musk

April 26, 2023 10:03 am | Updated 01:12 pm IST

Twitter revealed it required users to take down over 6.5 million pieces of content in the first half of 2022.

Twitter revealed it required users to take down over 6.5 million pieces of content in the first half of 2022. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Twitter will not be publishing a formal transparency report for the year 2022, the social media platform announced on its blog on April 25. It is not clear if the company has also chosen to stop publishing routine disclosures of copyright and government takedown requests on the Lumen Database — Twitter doesn’t appear to have disclosed any Indian takedown requests since April 9, and even copyright request disclosures globally haven’t been forthcoming since April 15. 

The discontinuation of transparency measures underlines key changes in the platform’s ownership since it was acquired by billionaire Elon Musk. “Twitter continues to take action on content that violates our Rules and protects users’ rights in response to government legal requests,” the company said in a blog post. 

Also read | Social media rules quite strict in India, says Elon Musk

In recent months, Twitter largely complied with government requests to take down accounts of journalists during the manhunt of pro-Khalistani preacher Amritpal Singh, and also took down tweets featuring the BBC documentary series India: The Modi Question when demanded to do so by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.

Data requests

India is the highest requester of user account data in the world, ahead of Twitter’s two largest markets, the United States and Japan. It is unclear how many user account requests the Government has sent to Twitter, as the company says it will no longer break down such information routinely. In July–December 2021, the latest period for which such information is available, and a period where India was also the top requester, the platform received 2,211 requests for 7,768 accounts. 

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In those months, Indian requests represented almost a fifth of the global total. On government removals, India is currently the fourth highest requester in the world, behind Japan, South Korea and Turkey. In the same 2021 six month period for which data is available, the government sent over 4,000 legal demands for removal, of which Twitter complied with 19.5%. More recent compliance numbers are not available.

Twitter continues to fight a case in the Karnataka High Court against some blocking orders issued by the Union Government. The court has reserved its judgement in the case.

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