Twitter warns of ‘record highs’ in account data requests

Twitter has released its 20th Transparency Report, and the details are still not reassuring for those concerned about the misuse of personal data. The social network saw “record highs” in the number of account data requests in the reporting period from July to December 2021, with 47,572 legal requests for 198,931 accounts. The media in particular was under much greater pressure. Government demand for data from verified news outlets and journalists increased by 103 percent compared to the last report, with 349 accounts audited.

Most of the inquiries to the news industry came from India (114), followed by Turkey (78) and Russia (55). Governments managed to block 17 tweets.

US demand continued to make up a disproportionately large part of the total volume. The country accounted for 20 percent of all global requests for account information, and those requests covered 39 percent of all accounts reported. Russia is still the second largest consumer at 18 percent of the volume, even though its demand has fallen 20 percent over the six months.

The company said it still denies or restricts access to information where possible. It denied 31 percent of US data requests and either restricted or suspended 60 percent of global requests. Twitter also opposed 29 civil lawsuit attempts to identify anonymous US users, citing reasons for the first change. She sued in two of those cases and so far has been successful in one of those lawsuits. It hasn’t had much success reporting US national security-related inquiries, however, and Twitter is still hoping to win an appeal that would allow it to share more details.

Demand for data surged from the start of 2020, and this latest transparency report shows that it continues to grow. Twitter sees the attempts to attack journalists as an increasing threat to press freedom. We would add that the situation is volatile, at least in the short term. Russia has blocked access to Twitter after invading the country in Ukraine, and the company is suing India for defying an account-banning order. Don’t be surprised if the next report paints a very different picture.

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