Twitter Transparency Report – Shares Data Requested By Government

Twitter has been busy the last few days. First, It tweaked its UI a bit, later it broke-up with LinkedIn and today, it decided to release its very own Transparency Report.

With social media gaining ground like never before, governments all across the world are the gearing up to face the challenges that social media brings with it. And not to mention the content owners who have their work plagiarised on social networks.

In order to be transparent with its users and be open about how it handles take-down requests from various parties, Twitter has introduced a Transparency Report which will be updated twice every year.

The first Twitter Transparency Report includes data from 1st January, 2012 to 30th June, 2012. So, you can expect the next update to be on 1st January 2013.

The report presents 3 types of data requested from Twitter:

User Information Requests

Twitter Transparency Report - User Information Requests

This data represents the instances where respective governments requested Twitter to hand over the user information. In most cases, the user information requested was for criminal investigation purposes.

Twitter also notified the concerned users before sharing their information, unless ordered otherwise by law enforcement agencies.

User Information Requests are the total number of requests a government has asked for while the Percentage of Information Produced represents how many of the requests Twitter complied to. Users/Accounts Specified is the total number of users in the request sent by government. A request can contain more then one user, or a user may be present in more than one requests.

A look at the data above and you might be wondering why not share the exact data instead of using <10? The reason being that sharing the exact number when requests are less than 10 might be potentially risky for the affected user.

You can see that India has also made some user information requests (<10) but Twitter didn’t share any of them.

Removal Requests

Twitter Transparency Report - Removal Requests

Apart from seeking user information, law enforcement agencies also ask Twitter to remove content that is defamatory or unlawful. Each request may contain several items to be removed. In fact, law enforcement agencies can also request Twitter to remove a user as well.

The data presented here doesn’t include removal requests made regarding rules violations or informal requests that are sent via email.

Copyright Takedown Notices

Twitter Transparency Report - Copyright Takedown Notices

This dataset contains all the takedown notices that Twitter received from parties whose content was plagiarised on Twitter. These notices contained individual Tweets, as well as Media such as copyrighted Avatars, Backgrounds and Images shared via pic.twitter.com.

In order to give a fair chance to its users, Twitter notified them of the removal and assisted them with information on how to counter the removal if they think the removal was unfair.

In all the above 3 instances, Twitter doesn’t comply with a request if the complainant fails to specify the details about the user in question and the content to be removed. It doesn’t act on broad requests and takes into consideration only the ones that contain specific information.

I really like this move by Twitter as it shows that Twitter is a transparent organization and doesn’t want to withhold any information from its users. It also makes sure that it notifies the affected users and assists them in case the action taken against them was unfair.

It is worth noting here that Google also publishes its own Transparency Report.

Dear Facebook, it’s your turn now.

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