Jul 28, 2022 - Economy

Twitter warns governments are demanding user info at an alarming rate

Illustration of the Twitter bird logo with emoji side eyes

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Twitter warned Thursday that local, state and national governments around the world are asking the company to remove content and provide private information of user accounts at an alarming rate.

Driving the news: The company said in a new report that it received a record number of legal demands from governments, nearly 50,000 during a six-month period last year.

Details: The 47,572 legal demands were for 198,931 unique accounts.

  • The U.S. makes up the majority of demands for account information, accounting for 20% of the requests, per Twitter.
  • Japan had the most requests for Twitter to take down content, the Associated Press reports.
  • Twitter said it complied with about 40% of all requests for user data.

The big picture: This isn't an isolated event as Twitter said the number of requests has increased after each reporting period.

  • Similarly, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, said last year it has seen an increase in government requests for private user data.

What they're saying: “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 Thursday, per AP.

  • Rob Mahoney, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, told AP that governments are increasingly trying 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,” Mahoney said. “Social media platforms are vital for reporters and they must do more to resist government attempts to silence critical voices.”
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