Half of All Requests to Remove Twitter Posts Come From Turkey

  • 3,076 of 5,925 requests in second half of 2016 from Turkey
  • Turkey has tightened oversight of social media since 2013

Turkey accounted for more than half of all content removal requests sent to Twitter during the second half of 2016, a ranking it has topped for three years.

Turkish courts, police or government agencies made 3,076 such requests from July through December, up by around a quarter from the previous six-month period, according to the latest Twitter transparency report. The social media company withheld “some content” in 19 percent of cases, it said. Globally, there were just under six thousand requests.

Removal requests are typically made by governments over content considered illegal in their jurisdiction, by anti-discrimination organizations or lawyers representing individuals, Twitter said. For the first time, its report included data on legal requests to erase posts by verified journalists and news outlet accounts. Of 88 approaches, 88 percent came from Turkey.

“Given the concerning global trend of various governments cracking down on press freedom, we want to shine a brighter light on these requests,” Twitter said in a statement accompanying the report.

Turkish authorities have tightened their oversight of Twitter, as well as Facebook and YouTube, since anti-government protesters in 2013 used social-media platforms to organize. Critics say that, over time, this has evolved into a broad crackdown on dissenting voices as a sweeping corruption probe, two general elections within less than six months, surging violence and a failed military coup roiled politics.

Media Freedoms

Twitter withheld 15 Tweets and 14 accounts in response to complaints about Turkish journalists or media, including bloody images of terrorist attacks as well as content that it said violated a National Security Council decision issued after July’s failed coup.

“Whenever possible under Turkish law, Twitter filed legal objections in response to all court orders involving journalists and news outlets, arguing that those decisions may be contrary to protections of freedom of expression,” the company said in the report. “Disappointingly, none of our objections prevailed.”

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