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Twitter reports increase in info and removal requests for 2016

Engadget Engadget 22/09/2016 Mariella Moon
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Twitter has published its transparency report for January to June 2016, and one thing's clear: requests for user info and content removal keep on piling up. The microblogging website received two percent more government requests for account information compared to the second half of 2015. That's not a dramatic change compared to the increase in numbers between the first and the second half of last year, but it still affected 8 percent more accounts than before and shows that governments around the world are still keeping an eye on Twitter activity.

It probably wouldn't surprise you to know that the US remains the top requester for this period, considering it's been trying to shut down ISIS accounts on the website. While the US sent in 152 fewer requests for the first half of 2016, it was still responsible for 44 percent (5,676) of the overall number. Most of them were from the FBI, the Secret Service and the New York County District Attorney's Office. Besides disclosing for the first time which agencies makes the most requests, the company also broke down everything it got by state and revealed that most of what it received came from Virginia, California and New York. Another thing the transparency report revealed is that governments asked Twitter for 25 Vine and 47 Periscope account information, as well.

Twitter also received 13 percent more requests to delete tweets and accounts for the first half of the year. They mostly came from Turkey and Russia, just like last time. As The Christian Science Monitor notes, though, the website's report doesn't count anything sent in with gag orders, which is a tactic commonly employed by governments around the world, including the United States. Facebook, for instance, admitted earlier this year that 60 percent of the government requests it receives come with non-disclosure directives.

According to TechCrunch, 46 percent of the total requests Twitter gets is typically protected by a gag order, and only 7 percent of affected users are usually notified that the US government asked for their data. That means these numbers are likely a lot higher in reality, though we can only guess how many requests Twitter actually received. If you want to scrutinize the transparency report yourself, head over to the social network's revamped portal and click on each category to see the exact numbers.


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