Twitter seeing more government requests to remove journalists’ content: report

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Twitter has reported that it has seen an increase in the number of legal demands by governments to have journalists or news outlets take down content in the second half of 2020, according to the social media’s transparency report published on Wednesday.

The social media company noted that 199 accounts of verified news sites and journalists worldwide “were subject to 361 legal demands” by governments to remove or take down content. Twitter noted in its report that it represented an increase of 26 percent since the first half of 2020.

The countries that had the highest number of requests to take down content included India (128 requests), Turkey (108 requests), Pakistan (52 requests) and Russia (28 requests.)

Twitter reported that five tweets from verified accounts of news outlets and reporters were withheld, including four from Brazil and one from France. 

“Twitter filed legal objections for court orders from Turkey that involved verified journalists or news outlets, arguing that those decisions are contrary to Turkish protection of freedom of the press. None of those objections were successful during this reporting period,” the report added.

Overall, Twitter said it received 38,524 legal demands from governments to take down content. 

“Although there was a 9% decrease in the number of legal demands received, these requests sought removal of the largest number of accounts ever in a reporting period since releasing our first transparency report in 2012,” the report noted, saying that it removed some or all of the reported content in 29 percent of legal demands.

The reports come as governments are continuing to restrict access to social media platforms or are scrutinizing what content can remain online on social media apps.

According to Reuters, Cuba and Nigeria have already moved to restrict access to different social media platforms. Earlier this week, Cuba started to restrict access to some messaging apps, including Telegram, and Facebook. Additionally, Nigeria banned Twitter last month, Reuters reported. 

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