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Twitter Faces A Surge In Account Data Requests By Governments

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The latest transparency report by Twitter shows that governments are asking for accounts data more than ever, Engadget reports.

Protecting users’ personal information is one of the main duties of social networks. However, in some cases, these social platforms have to cooperate with governments and give up the user’s data. Twitter is now revealing the increasing requests of governments to access users’ information, especially journalists.

Twitter says it has seen “record highs” in data requests by governments from July-December 2021. During this period, Twitter received 47,572 legal demands on 198,931 accounts.

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The media and journalists are always a hot target for governments. According to Twitter’s 20th transparency report, requests for access to verified news outlets and journalists’ data have increased 103 percent compared to the last report. During this time, governments asked for data from 349 accounts.

Twitter is seeing a “record high” in the number of account data requests by governments

It should not be difficult to guess the countries that have had the most account data requests for media and journalists. As per the report, India with 114, Turkey with 78, and Russia with 55 requests are at the top of the list. Governments also could hold back 17 tweets.

Of course, the United States is still the biggest account data requester in the world. The US now accounts for 20 percent of all worldwide account info requests. Russia is also in second place by 18 percent. The account data requests by Russia dropped 20 percent during the six-month timeframe.

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Twitter claims it had denied or limited the account data requests as much as possible. For example, the social network has turned down or narrowed 31 percent of US data requests and 60 percent of global demands. Relying on the First Amendment rights, Twitter could stop 29 civil attempts to identify anonymous US users. Twitter also sued two of those data request cases and could succeed in one so far.

It’s evident that journalists have become a common target for governments and regimes worldwide. Countries like India have the highest demands for blocking journalists’ accounts. Russia also cut access to Twitter following its invasion of Ukraine. Other governments like Iran try to bribe content moderators to remove the opponent’s accounts.