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Twitter Transparency Report Shows Dark Side Of Social Media

Twitter's transparency report shows decreases in account suspensions for many categories but an increase related to child safety violations.

Twitter Transparency Report Shows Dark Side Of Social Media

Twitter’s transparency report showed decreases in the number of suspended accounts or had content removed due to violating Twitter’s rules.

The report also details increasing government requests for information and how often Twitter complies with those requests. Of particular note is an increase in governments targeting journalists with legal demands.

While most violations of Twitter rules decreased in this reporting period, a few others, such as child exploitation, were increasing.

The report covers the period from July to December 2021.

Accounts Actioned

Twitter’s transparency report noted a decrease in action taken on accounts.

The word “actioned” refers to when an account is suspended or has content removed in response to violating rules that govern participating on Twitter.

The total amount of actioned accounts decreased by 12%

The removed content decreased by 14% compared to the previous reporting period.

The total number of suspended accounts increased by 2%

Reasons Why Accounts Suspended

The overwhelming reason for account suspension is child sexual exploitation, with nearly 600,000 accounts suspended for that kind of activity.

The second highest reason for the suspension is impersonation, which only accounts for 169,396 account suspensions, followed by Illegal or certain regulated goods or services and sensitive media, coming at 119,508 and 118,356 accounts suspended.

These are the last three reasons for suspensions:

  • Hateful conduct – 104,565 accounts suspended
  • Abuse/harassment – 82,971 accounts suspended
  • Violence – 41,386 accounts suspended

The statistics for actioned accounts follow similar patterns, with child exploitation leading the reason for actioned accounts on Twitter (599,523 accounts).

Twitter Safety

In the safety category, almost every category experienced decreased accounts actioned.

Only the categories of child sexual exploitation, promoting suicide or self-harm, and illegal or specific regulated goods categories experienced increases in actioned accounts.

Safety Categories with Decreases in Accounts Actioned

  • Violence – 31% decrease
  • Terrorism/violent extremism – 25% decrease
  • Abuse/harassment – 10% decrease
  • Hateful conduct – 19% decrease
  • Sensitive media – 30% decrease

Press Freedom Under Pressure

A disturbing trend highlighted by Twitter is governments worldwide’s attempts to limit press freedoms.

Part of that pressure on press freedoms comes from legal demands, with both trends reaching all-time highs.

According to the transparency report:

  • “Record number of legal demands on accounts (45,572 requests on 198,931 accounts)
  • An increase of 103% in legal demands from governments targeting verified journalists and news outlets since the last reporting period
  • The United States accounted for 20% of all global requests
    Tweet impressions that violated Twitter rules accounted for less than 0.1% of total impressions on all Tweets
  • We objected to 29 US civil requests for account information that sought to unmask the identities of anonymous speakers”

Elsewhere the report noted:

“For the latest reporting period, 349 accounts of verified journalists and news outlets located all around the world were subject to 326 legal demands, a 103% increase since the previous reporting period and a record high since we started tracking this important metric, which is all the more important at a time when freedom of the press is strained globally.”

Journalists who publish unflattering news articles seem to be under attack by certain politicians worldwide.

The United States guarantees freedom of the press by the first amendment, so it seems odd to read in the transparency report that the United States accounts for the largest share of information requests made by any other government.

Twitter is Proactive on Accounts Actioned

A remarkable statistic is how little Twitter relies on users reporting violations of their policies.

Of accounts actioned for Terrorism/violent extremism, Twitter identified 93% through systems.

Twitter’s internal tools identified violations of Child sexual exploitation rules in 91% of all accounts actioned.

The Twitter transparency report noted:

“We suspended 596,997 unique accounts during this reporting period – a 32% increase since our previous report. Of these, 91% of suspended accounts were identified proactively by employing internal proprietary tools and industry hash sharing initiatives.

These tools and initiatives support our efforts in surfacing potentially violative content for further review and, if appropriate, removal.”

Another indicator of how fast Twitter responds to violations of its rules is a new metric called impressions.
Impressions measure how many times users viewed a tweet before Twitter took action.

According to Twitter:

“From July 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021, Twitter required users to remove 4M Tweets that violated the Twitter Rules.

Of the Tweets removed, 71% received fewer than 100 impressions prior to removal, with an additional 21% receiving between 100 and 1,000 impressions.

Only 8% of removed Tweets had more than 1,000 impressions. In total, impressions on these violative Tweets accounted for less than 0.1% of all impressions for all Tweets during that time period.”

Those are noteworthy statistics because they indicate that Twitter is remarkably fast in responding to violations of its rules.

Twitter’s proactive response compares favorably to Facebook’s moderation because, on Facebook, a violator’s post might be seen over a million times before Facebook takes action.


Citation

Read the Twitter Transparency Report

Sharing our latest transparency update marking decade long commitment

Read Insights and Graphs Related to the Twitter Report

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Featured image by Shutterstock/Rawpixel.com

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