Twitter introduces new Transparency Center

Twitter Transparency

Twitter has rebuilt the biannual Twitter Transparency Report site to become a comprehensive Twitter Transparency Center, making transparency reporting more easily understood and accessible.

The new Twitter Transparency Center has been created in an attempt to maintain the open nature of the platform, by sharing one’s own practices around how Twitter Rules are enforced and content removal takes place.

What’s new? 

  • Brand new website that includes all our disclosed data in one place 
  • Data visualizations making it easier to compare trends over time 
  • Country comparison module
  • Tooltips to help explain key terms and provide more insights on the terms we use
  • History of transparency milestones and updates
  • New metrics and methodology on the enforcement of the Twitter Rules (from July 2018 through December 2019)
  • New policy categories to better align with the Twitter Rules

Reports will be published in Arabic, Turkish, Spanish, German, French, Japanese, and Portuguese very soon too, and Twitter is continuing to iterate on the process to further contextualize the data.

The platform will continue to work on increasing awareness and understanding about how the policies work and practices around content moderation, data disclosures, and other critical areas. In addition, Twitter will take opportunities to highlight the actions of law enforcement, governments, and other organizations that impact Twitter and the people who use our service across the world.

Twitter Transparency

The data

The latest data reflects the period from July 1 to December 31, 2019. The next update to the data will cover the period of January – June 2020. 

Work on information operations:

The archive of state-backed information operations is updated on a rolling basis after it is identified and removed from Twitter. The cadence of disclosures has been increased, with sharing the latest disclosure to date with 32,242 accounts added to the archive.

This archive, used by researchers, journalists, and experts around the world, now spans more than 9 terabytes of media, includes over 83,000 accounts, and over 200 million Tweets and is an industry-first resource.

Twitter has now released datasets of information operations originating in more than 15 countries, offering researchers unique insight into how information operations unfold on the service.

The platform is also expanding how they work with partners in the research community to improve understanding of information operations and disinformation. Earlier this year they strengthened their partnership with two research institutions — the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and the Stanford Internet Observatory — to enable their analysis and review of data related to our disclosures. 

They also hosted their first-ever #InfoOps2020 conference in partnership with Carnegie’s Partnership for Countering Influence Operations. The event brought together academic experts, industry, and government to discuss opportunities for collaboration and research on IO and support an open exchange of ideas between Twitter and the research community.

Platform Manipulation:

The blog from earlier this year gives an explanation about the proactive work to counter platform manipulation across the service and the common misconceptions around ‘bots’ on Twitter. Their policies in this area focus on behavior, not content, and are written in a way that targets the spammy tactics different people or groups could use to try to manipulate the public conversation on Twitter.  

Continuing a year-on-year trend, the detection of this behavior has resulted in an almost 10% reduction in anti-spam challenges, e.g. when we ask people to provide a phone number or email address or fill in a ReCAPTCHA code to verify there is a human behind an account.

Terrorism & violent extremism:

Twitter Rules prohibit the promotion of terrorism and violent extremism. Action was taken on 86,799 unique accounts under this policy during this reporting period. 74% of the unique accounts were proactively suspended using our internal, proprietary tools. Twitter continues its partnership with peers as part of the Christchurch Call to Action and is committed to eradicating the presence of violent extremist content across respective services. 

Child sexual exploitation:

Child sexual exploitation is not tolerated on Twitter. Child sexual exploitation (CSE) including links to images of or content promoting child exploitation, is removed from the site without further notice and reported to The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

People can report content that appears to violate the Twitter Rules regarding Child Sexual Exploitation via the web form and other reports are also investigated via various reporting flows in-app for CSE too.

There were 257,768 unique accounts suspended during this reporting period for violating Twitter policies prohibiting child sexual exploitation. 84% of those unique accounts were proactively suspended using a combination of technologies (including PhotoDNA and internal, proprietary tools).

Also Read: Twitter introduces a new developer experience

Twitter Rules enforcement:

Twitter is expanding the scope of this section to better align with the Twitter Rules and sharing more granular data on violated policies. This is in line with best practices under the Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation. 

Due to increased focus on surfacing violative content for human review, more granular policies, better reporting tools, and also the introduction of more data across twelve distinct policy areas, Twitter has seen a 47% increase in accounts locked or suspended for violating the Twitter Rules.

The increase is also reflective of a trend observed across our recent Twitter Transparency Reports, as Twitter steps up the level of enforcement across the service and invests in technological solutions to respond to the changing characteristics of bad-faith activity on our service.

  • Abuse/harassment
    As the platform tightened rules and increased use of technology and human review working in concern, there was a 95% increase in the number of accounts actioned for violations of abuse policy during this reporting period. This reporting period saw the largest increase in the number of accounts actioned under these policies.
  • Hateful conduct
    Hateful conduct expanded to include a new dehumanization policy on July 9, 2019. There was a 54% increase in the number of accounts actioned for violations of the hateful conduct policy during this reporting period.
  • Sensitive media, including graphic violence and adult content
    There was a 39% increase in the number of accounts actioned for violations of the sensitive media policy during this reporting period.
  • Promoting suicide & self-harm
    The platform does not permit people to promote, advocate, and persuade another individual to engage in self-harm or suicide. There was a 29% increase in the number of accounts actioned for violations for this type of behavior.
  • Illegal or certain regulated goods or services
    A new addition to the data disclosures, there were 60,807 unique accounts actioned for violations of illegal or certain regulated goods or services policy during this reporting period. 
  • Private information
    Sharing an individual’s private information — or so-called doxxing — without their express consent is a violation of the Twitter Rules. Internal tooling improvements allowed the increased enforcement of this policy, and there was a 41% increase in the number of accounts actioned for violations of private information policy during this reporting period.
  • Non-consensual nudity
    Due to internal improvements and extensive retraining specific to this enforcement area, this reporting period saw a 109% increase in the number of accounts actioned for violations of non-consensual nudity policy, the largest increase in the number of accounts actioned under this policy.
  • Violent threats
    During this reporting period, the platform saw a 5% decrease in the number of accounts actioned for violations of violence policies (Violent Threats and Glorification of Violence).

Legal requests:

In addition to enforcing the Twitter Rules, the company also may take action in response to legal requests.

Information requests (legal requests for account information): 

  • Governments and law enforcement agencies around the world submitted approximately 21% more information requests compared to the previous reporting period. Notably, the aggregate number of accounts specified in these requests increased by nearly 63%. The total volume of requests and specified accounts are respectively the largest seen to date since our transparency reporting began in 2012. Twitter received government information requests from 91 different countries since 2012.
  • Information requests from the United States continue to make up the highest percentage of legal requests for account information. During this reporting period, 26% of all global requests for account information originated within the United States. The second highest volume of requests originates from Japan, comprising 22% of global information requests.
  • Anonymous and pseudonymous speech is important to Twitter and is central to our commitment to defend and protect the voices of the public. Twitter often receives non-government information requests to disclose account information of anonymous or pseudonymous Twitter accounts (i.e., requests to “unmask” the identity of the individual), which the company frequently objects to. Twitter objected to 23 US civil requests for account information that sought to unmask the identities of anonymous speakers on first amendment grounds during this reporting period. Twitter ended up litigating six of these requests. The company prevailed in four cases, lost one, and one is still pending. No information was produced in response to the other 17 requests.

Removal requests (legal requests for content removal)*:

  • In this reporting period, Twitter received 27,538 legal demands to remove content specifying 98,595 accounts. This is the largest number of requests and specified accounts that the platform has received since releasing the first Transparency Report in 2012. 
  • This record number of legal demands originated from 51 different countries. 86% of the total global volume of legal demands originated from only three countries: Japan, Russia, and Turkey. 
  • Legal demands from Japan increased by 143% this reporting period, accounting for 45% of global requests received. The 12,496 requests from Japan are primarily related to laws regarding narcotics and psychotropics, obscenity, or money lending.

Copyright & trademark actions: 

  • Copyright violations: Twitter received a 13% increase in DMCA takedown notices affecting 163% more accounts during this reporting period.
  • Trademark notices: The platform saw a 7% increase in the total number of trademark notices received since the last report.