Twitter Sees A Large Jump in Gov Demands To Censor Political News

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According to data from the social media platform, Twitter Inc. witnessed a rise in government requests worldwide to remove content posted by journalists and news organizations in 2020.

Twitter published its transparency report Wednesday. It stated that verified accounts of 199 journalists were subject to 361 legal demands by governments to remove content during the second half 2020. This is 26% more than the first half.

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The biannual report of Twitter’s enforcement policy rules and information and removal requests it gets is issued as social media companies like Alphabet Inc’s YouTube come under scrutiny from governments around the world over the content they allow on their platforms.

The report stated that Twitter eventually removed five tweets by journalists and news editors. India was the most prominent applicant, followed closely by Turkey, Pakistan, and Russia.

This data was not collected by the social media platform previously for requests related to journalists and publishers.

The report stated that India was the top-ranked country for information requests from governments in the second quarter of 2020, surpassing the United States for first time.

Some countries have taken steps to restrict or ban access to social media platforms. Cuba has begun to restrict access to Facebook and messaging apps such as Telegram on Monday amid massive anti-government protests. Nigeria ban Twitter and orders television and radio stations to stop using the platform for information gathering.

According to the company, it received more than 14,500 requests from around the world between July 1 and Dec 31. It responded to 30 percent of these requests.

These requests could be made by governments or other entities seeking to identify people who tweet under pseudonyms.

Twitter was also subject to more than 38,500 legal requests for the removal of content. This is a decrease of 9% compared to the first half 2020. Twitter also fulfilled 29% of these demands.

Twitter has been involved in numerous conflicts with countries, including India, over new content regulations for social networks. The company announced last week that it had appointed an interim chief compliance officer for India and would be appointing other executives to adhere to the rules.

Twitter stated in its updated transparency report that the number of views or impressions of a tweet that violated Twitter’s rules was less than 0.1% of all global views for the second half 2020. This is the first time such data has been released by the platform.

According to the company, its technology detects more than 65% abusive content and allows human review. It is not relying on Twitter reports.

Twitter, like other social media companies has struggled with hate speech, misinformation, and other abuses of its service. In March, Jack Dorsey, Chief Executive of Twitter, testified before Congress about misinformation.

This week, major social media companies came under fire for racist abuses directed at Black England soccer players via their platforms.