India submitted the highest number of demands to remove tweets by verified handles of journalists and news outlets between July and December 2021, Twitter said in its 20th Transparency Report on Thursday.

The social media platform said it received 326 legal demands from across the world – an increase of 103% from the previous report – for removing content by the journalists and news portals. India made 114 of these demands, followed by Turkey (87) and Russia (55) .

According to the report, India made a total of 3,992 legal demands to remove content from Twitter, including those posted by journalists and news outlets. India is among the top five countries in terms of total number of such requests made.

India also ranked second among all countries for seeking account information requests from Twitter during the July-December 2021 period, according to the report. The United States topped the list.

“There was a steady increase in actions taken on verified journalists and news outlets,” Twitter said. “In total, 17 tweets from verified journalists and news outlets were withheld in this reporting period compared to 11 tweets withheld during the previous transparency report period.”

India had topped the list in seeking removal of content by journalists and news outlets in the January-June 2021 report as well. New Delhi had made 89 of the total 231 such legal demands made during that period.

(Source: Twitter Transparency Report July-December 2021)

The report also noted that Twitter had received a demand from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights to remove content related to “privacy issues” of a minor. It said that the tweet by “high-ranking political figure” was withheld.

While Twitter did not disclose the name of the politician, it was apparently referring to Congress MP Rahul Gandhi.

In August, the child rights body had asked Twitter to remove a photo posted by Gandhi that revealed the identity of a Dalit girl whose alleged rape, murder and forcible cremation had sparked massive protests in Delhi.

Gandhi had met the family of the nine-year-old girl and posted a photo of them having a conversation with him. “In the said photo, the faces of the victim’s father and mother can be seen which thereby reveals the identity of the girl,” the child rights body had said.

Globally, Twitter received over 47,600 demands to remove content, the report said, adding that the social media platform complied with 51.2% of them.

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Twitter sees 48,000% rise in legal demands from India to remove content since 2014, says report

Second spot for seeking account details

India made 2,211 requests to Twitter seeking account information, of which only 5.5% were complied with, the report showed.

Globally, Twitter received over 11,500 account information requests, with the US accounting for the highest – 20% – of them. India’s share was 19%, while Japan and France accounted for 17% each.

Twitter clarified that it pushes back on requests that are “are incomplete or improper, such as requests that are facially invalid or overbroad in scope”.

It added: “Depending on the circumstances, we may produce some data after working to narrow a request, or we may not disclose any data. We also may not have any responsive records to produce.”

Earlier this month, Twitter had moved the Karnataka High Court challenging the Indian government’s orders to block certain tweets and accounts from the social media platform.

On July 8, Twitter had told the court that it had been asked by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to take down 175 tweets and more than 1,400 accounts between February 2021 to February 2022.

In its plea, the microblogging platform has challenged the removal of 39 of these links.

The notices and blocking orders were sent to Twitter under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act. The provision allows the government to block public access to content in the interest of national security.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, data shared by the Centre in the Lok Sabha had shown that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology ordered Twitter to block 2,851 URLs or uniform resource locators in 2021 and 1,122 till June this year under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.