Turkey’s requests to remove content from Twitter up 156 pct in second half of 2014
ISTANBULTurkey’s requests to remove content from Twitter increased by 156 percent in the second half of 2014, according to the microblogging site’s biannual transparency report.
Overall, Twitter said the total number of removal requests had increased by 84 percent from the previous period, while the total number of affected accounts increased by 348 percent.
Turkey topped the list with a total of 477 requests, made up of 328 court orders and 149 requests from government agencies or the police. Turkey requested the removal of content ranging from violations of personal rights to defamation of private citizens and/or government officials.
Some 62 of the 85 accounts withheld and 1,820 of the 1,982 tweets withheld in total between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2014, were from Turkey, according to the report.
Twitter said it filed legal objections with Turkish courts in instances where it believed the order interfered with freedom of expression or had other deficiencies. It did not withhold three accounts and 196 tweets as a result of this.
Since the last report for the first half of the year, Twitter has received 156 percent more removal requests from Turkey, with the number of accounts specified increasing by 765 percent. Between Jan. 1 and June 30 in 2014, Turkey had applied to Twitter 183 times, resulting in the withholding of 17 accounts and 183 tweets.
Russia and Germany followed Turkey on the list, with 91 and 43 removal requests respectively. Twitter received requests from three new countries - Argentina, Kazakhstan and Kenya, - without resulting in any removals.
The social media platform also received almost 40 percent more requests for account information overall, affecting 128 percent more account holders in the second half of 2014.
Turkey came second for the requests of account information with a total of 356 requests, constituting 12 percent of all 2,871 requests. Turkey’s information requests increased by 11 percent since the previous report.
The United States topped the list, submitting 1,622 requests, while Japan came in third.
Twitter withheld its first content in Turkey in March 2014, soon after the Turkish government started to implement an access ban on its service.
Following several meetings with Turkish officials, Twitter accepted Ankara’s demand to act “more quickly and in a more sensitive manner” regarding rulings by Turkish courts.
During the Gezi Park protests in 2013, then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described the microblogging website as a “menace,” claiming that “unmitigated lies are there [on Twitter].”
The Turkish government has also been increasing measures to tighten control over the content on the Internet. In a latest move, as part of an omnibus bill, extra authorities were given to the prime minister and other ministers to block any website without a court order on the basis of national security, protecting public order or preventing crime. Another regulation that granted similar rights to the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) was passed in parliament on Sept. 10, 2014, sparking protests from Internet rights groups.