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Government Data Requests On Twitter
Twitter hasn't denied a single one since the acquisition
Twitter is complying with a far higher percent of demands from governments for user data & takedowns since the acquisition, and hasn't outright denied a single request, as reported here in restofworld: https://restofworld.org/2023/elon-musk-twitter-government-orders/
If you believe in free speech on Twitter, you should be pissed, because in the past, Twitter was known for having some of the best pushback on government overreach in these requests:
In case you have no idea what this is about, here's a quick oversimplified primer on the situation:
Large social media companies usually have a "law enforcement portal", where law enforcement agencies can submit requests for user data via a subpoena.
Then there are teams within the company whose job is to inspect those requests and decide if they're valid.
If the request is legit, say... "Bob McMurderChildren is suspected strongly of grooming Innocent McSixteenYearOld, so we want the DM history between those two people only, and we have a subpoena", then the request is approved and the DMs are provided.
If the request isn't so legit, say... "TinPot McMiniDictator thinks Political McDissident said mean things about him and wants his GPS location and all of his DMs ever", it's denied.
And if the request is overall legitimate, but the company feels it's too broad given the relevant laws/policies (say, "give us all of Innocent Mc16's DMs with anyone ever"), the company might choose to send only the information that they deem relevant.
So what this report is telling us is that Twitter is complying with a significantly higher percentage of requests with a full approval instead of a partial approval, and hasn't denied a single request since the takeover. Read the article for the exact numbers, but that's... bad.
The chances that suddenly they're getting almost entirely high-quality requests after the acquisition seems extremely unlikely. There has been an uptick in requests lately for various reasons (see article), and I just can't believe that suddenly all the requests are that good.
My guess is either:
1) Most/all of the people who reviewed government data requests at Twitter were fired, and whoever is left is scrambling to do what they can.
2) Whoever is in charge of this at the moment doesn't care or know enough to push back.
On top of all this: 14 days ago, they stopped reporting to the Lumen database entirely.
(Lumen is "a public clearinghouse for takedown requests and other government orders received by online speech platforms")
I'm hoping that the failure to report to Lumen is just a bug. Because if they really are just going to stop giving any transparency into how they're responding to these requests, it's a dark sign about the company's current attitude towards free speech and human rights.
Anyway, as always, thanks for reading! Let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know about this stuff, I’m happy to write it up if I know, and research it if I don’t. See you next time!
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