1 December 2023 4:07 PM
Elon Musk's Twitter complies with more government requests, data shows

Despite promising to bring more free speech to the platform, data suggests that Twitter under Elon Musk has complied with more government censorship requests.

Records from the Lumen database show that countries like Turkey, India and Germany have sent hundreds of requests to take down certain content or to hand over private information on users the past six months. Twitter has complied with nearly all of those requests. 

Lumen is a public database that has compiled government takedown requests for over 20 years.

According to the data, in the time since Mr. Musk took over leadership of the company, Twitter has received 971 government requests and the company fully complied with 808 of them and partially complied with 154. The remaining nine requests were left “unspecified.”

This is in sharp contrast to how previous leadership responded to government requests. Looking at the previous six-month period before Mr. Musk’s takeover, the data shows that the company received 547 government demands and the company fully complied with 280, partially complied with 241 and denied 26. 

Despite Twitter under Mr. Musk receiving many more government requests than before, the current leadership fully complied with many more requests proportionally. Twitter has had spats with foreign governments in the past over their censorship laws. Most recently, Twitter sued the Indian government in 2022 over an order to restrict accounts critical of the government of Narendra Modi. 

India has issued 50 governmental requests to Twitter since Mr. Musk’s acquisition. The company has partially or fully complied with 49 of them. 

The countries that issued the most demands of Twitter the past six months have recently passed sweeping speech laws that restrict what can be said online. Turkey passed legislation aimed against what it calls disinformation; activists say it essentially any reporting that is not approved by authorities. Turkey issued 491 requests to Twitter in the past six months, and the company partially or fully complied with 489 of them. 

Twitter automatically reported to Lumens for years. However, despite normally receiving hundreds of requests a week, Twitter has seemingly stopped reporting. The last recorded report was on April 14. 

The increase in compliance with government censorship requests, and the sudden stalling of reports, might be due to Mr. Musk’s staff cuts. After his takeover, the firm fired thousands of employees, including those who dealt with government requests. 

The data is difficult to square with Mr. Musk’s public rhetoric about free speech on the platform. Soon before he bought Twitter, Mr. Musk and his followers alluded to an incoming free speech paradise. Once in power, the CEO reinstated the accounts of several figures, including former President Donald Trump, and rolled back certain speech restrictions. Recently, Twitter removed a clause in its terms of service that would have suspended users for intentionally misgendering others. 

On at least two occasions, Mr. Musk has come under fire for banning journalists from mainstream outlets. 

However, the company’s decision to follow the rules of other countries seems to be exactly what Mr. Musk wants. 

“We can’t go beyond the laws of a country,” Mr. Musk told the BBC this month. “If we have a choice of either our people go to prison or we comply with the laws, we’ll comply with the laws.”

Source : https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/apr/27/elon-musks-twitter-complies-more-government-reques/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&rand=1247


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