Aug 19, 2020 - Technology

Twitter details bans, data requests in transparency tool relaunch

A photo illustration of a hand in silhouette pointing at the Twitter logo prominently displayed on a tablet screen.
Photo by Mehmet Kaman/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Twitter said Wednesday that it nearly doubled its enforcement actions against accounts engaging in abuse and harassment and saw government requests for user information continue to rise in the back half of 2019.

The big picture: The reveals come as Twitter unveils an expansion of its transparency program. Big Tech firms are seeing greater public and political pressure to both crack down on bad behavior and explain their moderation practices.

Details: Twitter locked or suspended 47% more accounts for breaking its rules as compared to the first half of 2019, the company said in a blog post.

  • The company attributed the rise to more human review of potential violations, better reporting tools and more detailed policies on what behavior can trigger an enforcement action.
  • The greatest crackdown came in the categories of nonconsensual nudity as well as abuse and harassment, where account suspensions or bans in both cases roughly doubled. There was a 5% decrease, by contrast, in action over violent threats.

Between the lines: Such disparities may reflect past success in reducing certain types of bad behavior but work that still needs doing on others — or it may reflect Twitter's reviews determining that certain policy categories are a better fit than others for justifying action against an account.

  • A Twitter spokesperson noted that accounts may be reported for one type of behavior but banned or suspended for another.

Yes, but: Because the report only covers the second half of 2019, it doesn't include any data pertaining to the coronavirus pandemic, which has presented new moderation challenges for social media platforms as users flood the internet with misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Meanwhile: Requests for account information from law enforcement and other government bodies rose 21%, with the U.S. continuing to lead the world in requests.

The new stats come with a rebrand and expansion of Twitter's transparency resources. Twitter is launching a new website it's dubbing the Twitter Transparency Center (previously the Twitter Transparency Report) with new data visualizations and tools to let users compare trends over time and across different countries.

What's next: Twitter hopes to deliver the next update to its transparency stats, covering the first half of this year, faster than this one in the interest of getting out coronavirus-related data to the public more quickly.

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