In the first of its kind action, Twitter has unveiled its first Twitter Transparency Report, in which it says that as "inspired by the great work done by our peers @Google, the primary goal of this report is to shed more light on: government requests received for user information, government requests received to withhold content, and DMCA takedown notices received from copyright holders." Is it something Americans should be concerned about? Well, with 679 out of a total of 849 user information requests by various governments, or the most by a margin of nearly 700% belonging to the US, we would say so. This also translates into 948 of all users/accounts specified. But most troubling is that Twitter has folded on a 75% of all such demands when it comes to the US government demanding information. It has provided information to only 6 other governments: Australia, Canada, Greece, Japan, Netherlands and the UK, but at a far lower "hit rate." You gotta give it to Uncle Sam: he sure can be persuasive.
One of our goals is to grow Twitter in a way that makes us proud. This ideal informs many of our policies and guides us in making difficult decisions. One example is our long-standing policy to proactively notify users of requests for their account information unless we’re prohibited by law; another example is transmitting DMCA takedown notices and requests to withhold content to Chilling Effects. These policies help inform people, increase awareness and hold all involved parties––including ourselves––more accountable; the release of our first Transparency Report aims to further these ambitions.
Here’s the data, which dates back to January 1, 2012. You can also find these tables, along with more information about the data, in our Help Center.
We’ve received more government requests in the first half of 2012, as outlined in this initial dataset, than in the entirety of 2011. Moving forward, we’ll be publishing an updated version of this information twice a year.
Along with publishing our Transparency Report, we’re also partnering with Herdict, which “collects and disseminates real-time, crowdsourced information about Internet filtering, denial of service attacks, and other blockages.” This new partnership aims to drive more traffic and exposure to Herdict, while also empowering the web community at large to help keep an eye on whether users can access Twitter around the world.
These two new initiatives—the Twitter Transparency Report and our partnership with Herdict—are an important part of keeping the Tweets flowing.