Twitter’s first transparency report details compliance with government requests

Ryan Lovelace Contributor
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In 2012 Twitter has received 679 requests for user information from U.S. authorities, more than from all other countries combined, according to a Monday report released by the social media company.

Twitter released “some or all” of the user information sought in 75 percent of U.S. requests, and complied with 63 percent of government requests worldwide.

A post on Twitter’s blog said the company released the information ahead of the July 4 holiday “to hold governments accountable, especially on behalf of those who may not have a chance to do so themselves.”

Earlier this year, many users expressed disapproval with Twitter’s decision to “give ourselves (Twitter) the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world.”

In response one Twitter user wrote, “Thank you for the ‪#censorship, ‪#twitter, with love from the governments of ‪#Syria, ‪#Bahrain, ‪#Iran, ‪#Turkey, ‪#China, ‪#Saudi and friends.”

Allowing some form of government censorship is not exclusive to Twitter, as Google released its own transparency report earlier this month charting its compliance history.

From July 2010 to December 2011, Google “fully or partially complied” with 93 percent of 6,321 requests for user information made by U.S. authorities.

Both Google and Twitter have acknowledged an increase in government requests, and Twitter said it has received more government requests in the first half of 2012 than in the entirety of 2011.

While social media receives widespread acclamation for its role in the Arab Spring and democratizing information, such reports indicate its actual role may be different than how it’s perceived.

Twitter said it will release updated reports of this information twice a year. A Twitter spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment from The Daily Caller.