Our tenth Twitter #Transparency Report

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Today, we are publishing our latest Twitter Transparency Report with updated data covering the latter half of 2016. This is also our tenth report, a milestone that seemed a long way off when we announced our first report back in July 2012. A lot has changed over the past five years, both at Twitter and around the world. But the need for transparency into government and company actions has never been more important given the current climate of continued crackdowns on freedom of expression and limitations on citizens rights around the globe. On the positive side, it has been encouraging to see transparency reports become a mainstay of the technology industry, with more than 60 reports now in existence. This backdrop continues to inspire us to provide more meaningful data and insights into requests we receive that impact our users worldwide.

One area we’re pleased to introduce into our report going forward is a new section in the US report covering national security requests. As recently noted, we were able to reveal the existence of two national security letters after the FBI informed us that the gag orders had been lifted. We also spoke about Twitter’s attempt to use the statutory means provided in the USA Freedom Act to seek more transparency into similar NSL requests. Shortly after that post, we received word that the DOJ and FBI responded to our USA Freedom Act notices regarding three additional NSLs lifting the accompanying gag orders. Subsequently, we provided notice, including a copy of the data we produced, to the users affected by these requests. As we continue to push for more transparency in how we can speak about national security requests, we will update this new section in future transparency reports.

We’re also adding a new section to our legal removals report covering requests to remove content from verified journalists and other media/news outlets. Given the concerning global trend of various governments cracking down on press freedom, we want to shine a brighter light on these requests. During this reporting period, Twitter received 88 legal requests from around the world directing us to remove content posted by verified journalists or news outlet accounts. We did not take any action on the majority of these requests, with limited exceptions in Germany and Turkey, the latter of which accounted for 88% of all requests of this nature. For example, we were compelled to withhold Tweets sharing graphic imagery following terror attacks in Turkey in response to a court order. More details about these requests are available in our report.

Behind the scenes, we’ve begun the necessary work to include details about terms of service requests we receive from official government requesters through our standard customer support channels (as opposed to the data we already include based on legal requests). For now, we have added the new government terms of service section to this report with information covering government requests and our response to removing content that violates the Twitter Rules relating to the promotion of terrorism. It also includes an update on the company’s continued work to remove terrorist content from our platform beyond government reports.

Along with the new data and the latest reporting numbers for the second half of 2016, there are also a range of other updates across the report. For example, in our global information requests report, we now break out the number of emergency disclosure requests and preservation requests we receive by country. In our legal removals report, we’ve included more specificity around requests to remove Periscope and Vine content. We’ve also added a new section covering our EU Trusted Reporters program.

While we’re excited to have reached our tenth report, there is still plenty of work to be done. We’re more committed than ever to improve our approach and to give the world more meaningful insights and data to better understand the complex global issues we face every day. Transparency will always be part of our DNA and we welcome your feedback.

You can read our latest report now.

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