- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Twitter said Tuesday that it ordered people to delete millions of posts on its website that hardly anyone saw in order to enforce the tech platform’s rules.

The company said it required people to take down 4.7 million tweets violating the company’s rules between Jan. 1 and June 30 of last year. 

“Of the Tweets removed, 68% received fewer than 100 impressions prior to removal, with an additional 24% receiving between 100 and 1,000 impressions,” Twitter said in a blog post. “In total, impressions on these violative Tweets accounted for less than 0.1% of all impressions for all Tweets during that time period.”

Twitter has faced increasing scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers and policymakers, which ramped up after the company banned former President Donald Trump while he was in office last year. Mr. Trump has sued Twitter over its ban.

Lawmakers are considering proposals to rewrite liability protections for tech platforms in an effort to curb how and what tech platforms restrict. While President Biden campaigned in favor of revoking the protections, his administration intervened earlier this month in Mr. Trump’s lawsuit against Facebook and wrote in support of the law establishing the protections.

Speech and censorship issues are not the only potential challenges facing Twitter, as its business could change as the result of new antitrust policy or regulation in Washington.

Aware of government officials’ heightened scrutiny of its actions, Twitter said it decided to publish new information about governments’ requests for information while regulators across the globe discuss potential new actions affecting Twitter’s business. 

The U.S. was responsible for most government information requests, but a handful of other countries accounted for the overwhelming number of legal demands, according to Twitter.

“In a change from our last reporting period, the United States became the single largest source of government information requests with 3,026 requests, accounting for 24% of the global volume we received during this period,” said Twitter in its blog post. “These requests accounted for 27% of all accounts specified from around the world and Twitter complied, in whole or in part, with 68% of these U.S. information requests.”

Twitter also said it received 43,387 legal demands from governments to remove content from 196,878 accounts, which is the largest number of accounts subject to removal requests in the preceding decade. 

“Of the total global volume of legal demands, 95% originated from only five countries (in decreasing order): Japan, Russia, Turkey, India, and South Korea,” Twitter said in its blog post. “We withheld or required account holders to remove some or all of the reported content in response to 54% of these global legal demands.” 

Twitter spokesman Trenton Kennedy said privacy concerns prevent the company from sharing many details about whose content was removed in response to requests from government officials. He said that 172 accounts of verified journalists and news outlets were subject to 231 legal demands, which represented a 14% decrease in the number of accounts targeted over Twitter’s previous reporting period. 

“We’re facing unprecedented challenges as governments around the world increasingly attempt to intervene and remove content,” Sinead McSweeney, Twitter vice president of global public policy and philanthropy, said in a statement. “This threat to privacy and freedom of expression is a deeply worrying trend that requires our full attention.”

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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