Twitter keeps governments in check with new Transparency Report

Twitter launches Transparency Report to keep governments in check
Twitter aims to keep the little birdies tweeting

Following in Google's footsteps, Twitter has released stats about the number of requests it has received from governments for tweets to be removed.

As well as the formal takedown requests, it has also highlighted where users' information has been requested on a country-by-country basis between January and June 2012.

The reports will be updated twice yearly and, although this is the first time it has released the data, Twitter says the report shows that it received more government requests in the first half of 2012 than throughout the whole of 2011.

This echoes Google's report, which also showed that politically motivated take down requests were on the rise.

Free data

While the US government hasn't made any official tweet takedown requests, France, Greece, Pakistan, Turkey and the UK all have; in the UK, only one removal request was made (although this could cover either a single tweet or an entire account) and it was not upheld.

It's a different story when it comes to user IDs though. In the US, 679 requests were made for user information, of which 75 per cent were fulfilled – these requests are generally made as part of a criminal investigation or court case.

By contrast, the UK government made only 11 such requests over the six-month period, with Twitter complying in 18 per cent of cases.

In the interests of transparency, Twitter notifies any user whose information is sought and won't comply with requests that don't identify a specific Twitter account, that are too broad or are successfully challenged by the user in question.


Twitter is also publishing the takedown requests made under the Digital Copyright Millennium Act (DCMA) relating to pirated content, noting that it took down 38 per cent of tweets requested on this basis during the first half of 2012 – that equates to 5,275 tweets.

"One of our goals is to grow Twitter in a way that makes us proud," wrote Jeremy Kessle, manager of legal policy at Twitter in a blog post.

"This ideal informs many of our policies and guides us in making difficult decisions.

"These policies help inform people, increase awareness and hold all involved parties - including ourselves - more accountable; the release of our first Transparency Report aims to further these ambitions."

As well as releasing the stats, Twitter is partnering with Herdict to allow users to monitor Twitter blocks around the world.

These moves are just the latest in a series of plays intended to keep Twitter as open as possible. In January this year, Twitter tweaked its takedown policy so that it could remove tweets in countries where they are legally obliged to while leaving them online in countries not covered by the relevant court orders.

From Twitter (see the report here)

News Editor (UK)

Former UK News Editor for TechRadar, it was a perpetual challenge among the TechRadar staff to send Kate (Twitter, Google+) a link to something interesting on the internet that she hasn't already seen. As TechRadar's News Editor (UK), she was constantly on the hunt for top news and intriguing stories to feed your gadget lust. Kate now enjoys life as a renowned music critic – her words can be found in the i Paper, Guardian, GQ, Metro, Evening Standard and Time Out, and she's also the author of 'Amy Winehouse', a biography of the soul star.