DUBAI: Twitter has released its 20th transparency report, “Twitter’s Commitment to Transparency in Action,” reflecting the platform’s progress over the past decade and its vision going forward.
The platform began reporting data around the enforcement of its rules in 2018 and became one of the first social media companies to introduce a transparency report in 2012.
In the last 10 years, Twitter has continued to put work into detecting and taking down content that violates its rules.
It had worked to move beyond a binary “leave up” or “take down” approach, the company said in a statement. Although it removed more than 4 million tweets that violated its rules, it also deployed other actions, such as labeling tweets to add context, according to the latest report covering the period between July and Dec. 2021.
Of the tweets removed, 71 percent received fewer than 100 impressions before removal, while 21 percent received between 100 and 1,000 impressions. These numbers have remained consistent since Twitter first began reporting the data in 2020, even as the volume of deleted rule-violating content has generally trended upward.
The company hosted a Spaces session called “Building Trust with Transparency: Lessons for the Future” that brought together Yoel Roth, head of safety and integrity at Twitter, Emma Llanso, director of the Center for Democracy & Technology’s Free Expression Project, and Paulina Gutierrez, human rights lawyer and former digital rights program officer at ARTICLE 19.
“Our goal is to build trust with the folks who are using our platform around the world, and there's a long way to go,” Roth said during the session. “I believe, and it’s a core part of Twitter’s strategy, that transparency is an essential part of how we build, rebuild, and earn trust with the folks who use our products.”
Roth said government requests had been increasing and becoming more “aggressive” in how they tried to use legal tactics to “unmask the people using our service, collect information about account owners, and also use legal demands as a way to try to silence people.”
Between July and Dec. 2021, Twitter received 11,460 global government information requests and had complied with 40.3 percent.
“It is Twitter’s long-standing practice to fight for the people who use our products to raise their voice,” Roth added.
The biggest priority for Gutierrez was for users to be able to “find easy and effective ways to understand what companies do and how they interact with governments.”
The next 10 years, she added, were about companies being “proactive” in understanding how “their services are being used to infringe on human rights” both at a local and global level, especially in non-English speaking countries.
For Llanso, the hope for the next 10 years was for governments to have more “regular transparency reporting themselves about their request for user data and the different ways that they try to restrict content and information online.”
One of the purposes of transparency reporting was to better inform public policy-making around the regulation and oversight of online services and Llanso said to do that "we need a lot more access to different kinds of data.”
Ten years from now, she hoped to be in “an environment where we have sorted out some of the difficult legal and technical privacy and security challenges,” and “well into another era of understanding online platforms where it’s not just (about) the information that we get directly from companies.”
In line with Llanso’s vision for the future, Twitter announced that it would launch the Twitter Moderation Research Consortium this year.
Through the consortium, Twitter will share large-scale datasets concerning platform moderation issues with a global group of public interest researchers from academia, civil society, NGOs, and journalists studying platform governance issues.