Twitter has revealed an alarming increase in government requests for user data in the past six months. What Jeremy Kessel, senior manager at Twitter calls “the largest increase between reporting periods” in the microblogging site’s history.
Requests shot up from 2,871 in the second half of 2014 to 4,363 requests in the first half of 2015.
Twitter complied with 58 per cent of requests made by governments worldwide. Most of the requests were based in the United States, but Japan, Turkey and India also asked for a lot more information over the six month period.
Periscope received 1,391 copyright requests over the same period, for people recording and streaming content without approval. Twitter is working to build systems to shut down streams before a copyright request needs to be sent, similar to YouTube’s Content ID system.
Twitter still receives a lot less user data requests from governments compared to Google and Facebook, both receive hundreds of thousands of requests every few months.
It does show that Twitter is becoming a more useful service for governments to find information. Even though the microblog displays most information in the public, the new DM tool has opened up private conversations that the government may want to see.
We expect as Twitter continues to grow out its service and offer more compelling reasons to stay engaged, governments will want to know what users are doing. Twitter has been a more conservative service when it comes to helping the government, with the microblog actively fighting against NSA surveillance.