Commentary

Twitter Reveals Greater Demand To Remove Publisher Content

Last year, Twitter received significantly more government requests to delete tweets by news outlets and journalists, though the social media platform rarely complied with those demands, according to its transparency report for the second half of 2020. The period was particularly contentious with the U.S. election and Twitter’s suspension of the New York Post’saccount.

The number of legal demands to remove content from the verified accounts for 199 journalists and news outlets on Twitter rose 26% from the first half to a record 361 in the second half. In response, Twitter only took down five tweets, according to its data.

The company’s report doesn’t detail which tweets were deleted, though it received the most removal requests from India, overtaking the United States for the first time. After India, the countries submitting the most removal requests were Turkey, Pakistan and Russia — not exactly beacons of press freedom.
India has taken a hard line against social media companies, and this year ordered Twitter to suspend accounts that supported farmer protests against agricultural reforms. Twitter complied with the order, but didn’t suspend the accounts of journalists and news outlets.

The company also said it had received more than 14,500 demands for information during the second half, and it produced some or all of the information in response to 30% of the requests. Those requests can be from governments or other organizations asking for the identities of people tweeting with different names, Reuters reported.
The number of legal demands to remove content fell 9% from the first half to 38,500 in the second half, and Twitter complied with 29% of the demands.
Twitter is among the social media companies that have faced greater regulatory scrutiny and accusations that they spread misinformation. The company last year suspended the New York Post’s account after its published a story about Hunter Biden’s alleged business dealings. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey later apologized for the company’s attempt to censor the paper.
As a private company, Twitter isn’t obligated to distribute content from journalists and publishers. It shouldn’t be surprising when it does remove tweets, with or without a government request.

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