India accounted for highest number of government requests for account information in July-December 2020: Twitter

This is the first time since Twitter started publishing its transparency report in 2012 where the US is not the top global requester, the company said.
Twitter logo (Photo | AP)
Twitter logo (Photo | AP)

NEW DELHI: India was the single largest source of government requests for account information that Twitter received during the July-December 2020 period, accounting for 25 per cent of the global volume, the microblogging platform said on Wednesday.

This is the first time since Twitter started publishing its transparency report in 2012 where the US is not the top global requester, the company said.

A total of 14,561 government requests were received globally, which includes 12,109 routine and 2,452 emergency requests in the second half of 2020.

India accounted for 3,615 requests (3,463 routine requests and 152 emergency requests) in the same time frame.

Twitter brings out with a biannual transparency report where it shares details on the number of government and legal requests, removal requests and data around accounts actioned for various violations and breach of rules.

India also ranked second in terms of volume of legal demands for content removal, after Japan, Twitter said in a blog that provided an update to its transparency report.

It is pertinent to mention here that Twitter had come under fire over its failure to comply with the IT rules in India, despite repeated reminders from the government.

The government has also confronted Twitter over multiple instances in the past months, including during the farmers' protest and later when it tagged political posts of several leaders of the ruling party BJP as 'manipulated media'.

Matters came to a head when non-compliance with new IT rules led to Twitter losing its legal shield as an intermediary in the country, and becoming liable for any unlawful content posted by its users.

Twitter -- which has an estimated 1.75 crore users in India -- recently appointed a Resident Grievance Officer, days after it designated a Chief Compliance Officer, and also released its first India Transparency Report on Sunday to comply with the new IT rules.

In its blog on Wednesday, Twitter said it produced some or all of the requested information in response to 30 per cent of the global information requests by governments in July-December 2020 period.

"India is the single largest source of government information requests, accounting for 25 per cent of the global volume and 15 per cent of the global accounts specified. The second highest volume of information requests originated from the US, comprising 22 per cent of global information requests," it added.

Japan (17 per cent) and France (14 per cent) followed in the list.

"Combined, these four countries accounted for 78 per cent of all global information requests during this reporting period," it said.

Twitter received 1,096 (46 per cent) more routine requests from India, while the number of accounts specified increased by 1,602 (27 per cent) during the reporting period over January-June 2020, it added.

During the latest reporting period (July-December 2020), Twitter received 38,524 legal demands globally to remove content specifying 131,933 accounts.

The platform withheld or otherwise removed some or all of the reported content in response to 29 per cent of these global legal demands.

"Although there was a 9 per cent decrease in the number of legal demands Twitter received, compared to the previous reporting period, these requests sought removal of content from the largest number of accounts ever in a single reporting period," Twitter added.

About 94 per cent of the total global volume of legal demands originated from only five countries (in decreasing order) - Japan, India, Russia, Turkey, and South Korea.

After Japan, the next highest volume of legal demands came from India, comprising 18 per cent of global legal demands and representing a 152 per cent increase from the previous reporting period.

"Notably, the number of accounts specified in requests from India also increased by 45 per cent this reporting period," Twitter said.

The US-based social media giant said accounts of 199 verified journalists and news outlets from around the world were subject to 361 legal demands - a 26 per cent increase in these requests since the previous reporting period.

"These included removal requests from India (128), Turkey (108), Pakistan (52), and Russia (28)," it added.

In its blog on Wednesday, Twitter said impressions on violative tweets accounted for less than 0.1 per cent of all impressions for all tweets globally from July-December 2020.

The impressions metric captures the number of views a violative tweet received prior to removal.

During this time, Twitter removed 3.8 million tweets that violated its rules.

About 77 per cent of these received fewer than 100 impressions prior to removal, 17 per cent had received between 100 and 1,000 impressions and 6 per cent of the removed tweets had more than 1,000 impressions.

"Our goal is to improve these numbers over time, taking enforcement action on violative content before it's even viewed," Twitter said.

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