Pakistan sought removal of over 10,000 Twitter accounts in the first half of 2021

February 2, 2022 – In the first half of 2021, Twitter received a total of 643 requests related to account information or removal from Pakistan. These requests specified 10,045 accounts that they sought removal or information for. The numbers were highlighted in the latest transparency report of the social media platform covering the period of January till June for the year 2021. However, where the compliance rate for information requests remained 0 percent, indicating that no account information was given, the compliance rate for legal demands for removal requests stood at 54.2 percent.

The report highlights that the company received 14 information requests, out of which 2 were court orders and 12 were legal demands from government entities and/or lawyers representing individuals in the country. These requests specified 26 accounts in total, out of which 2 were routine requests and 24 were emergency requests. The government requested preservation of the content of 29 accounts through 3 requests. Twitter defines preservation requests as, “Preservation requests” refers to government and law enforcement requests made in accordance with relevant law that require Twitter to maintain the specified account data pending the issuance of valid legal process to obtain that data. The information requests that Twitter received from Pakistan were not complied with by the company.

In addition, the bi-annual report shared by Twitter on January 25 reveals that it received a total of 629 legal demands to remove content, out which 3 were court orders and 626 were other formal demands including from government entities and lawyers representing individuals. Where court orders specified 71 accounts, other legal demands pertained to 9,948 Twitter accounts. The compliance rate for court orders was 66.7 percent, and 54.2 percent for other legal demands. A total of 4,588 accounts and tweets were removed in response to these requests with a combined compliance rate of 54.2 percent.

This is the highest number of accounts removal that has been requested from Pakistan since 2012 when Twitter started publishing its transparency report. Since then, Pakistan has sent a total of 20,093 accounts for removal to Twitter, out of which almost 50 percent were specified in the first half of 2021 – the reporting period for the latest report.

Worldwide Overview

In the first half of 2021, Twitter received a total of 12,370 government requests for information from around the world, whereas 43,387 legal demands for content removal were received. The accounts specified through these requests were numbered at 26,200 in total, and the compliance rate for these requests worldwide was 36.2 percent. Twitter also received 179,381 requests for content takedown requests for copyright infringement.

There was an overall decrease of 15 percent in the global information requests, whereas compliance rate increased by 21 percent compared to the previous reporting period of July – December 2020. The current reporting period of January – June 2021 also showed a 49 percent decrease in the number of accounts specified in the legal demands and requests sent to Twitter. Most of the requests that the company received came from the five countries, including Japan, Russia, Turkey, India and South Korea. Twitter’s Vice President of Global Public Policy and Philanthropy, Sinéad McSweeney, said in a statement, “We’re facing unprecedented challenges as governments around the world increasingly attempt to intervene and remove content. This threat to privacy and freedom of expression is a deeply worrying trend that requires our full attention.”

Hija is the Senior Programs Manager at Media Matters for Democracy. She leads digital rights and internet governance advocacy at MMfD. Tweets at @hijakamran

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