Maintaining transparency and practising accountability has been evolving as a responsibility that websites, especially social networks, are taking up diligently. With regular transparency reports, Google has been making attempts to highlight its efforts for maintaining transparency on its widely-used service. Taking a leaf out of Google's book, Twitter yesterday posted its first ever transparency report. In an official blog post, Jeremy Kessel, Manager of Legal Policy for Twitter, writes, “Wednesday marks Independence Day here in the United States. Beyond the fireworks and barbecue, July 4th serves as an important reminder of the need to hold governments accountable, especially on behalf of those who may not have a chance to do so themselves.” By way of their transparency report, the popular microblogging website aims to throw light on the following points:
- Government requests received for user information.
- Government requests received to withhold content.
- DMCA takedown notices received from copyright holders.
The report reveals that Twitter removed 782 tweets in January – a number that dropped to 649 in February then went to 1,139 in March. Twitter deleted 695 tweets last month. In an interesting revelation made in the post Kessel stated that they received more government requests in the first half of 2012 (“as outlined in this initial dataset”) than they did through 2011. The post further revealed that Twitter would be publishing an updated version of this report twice a year.
475 Copyright Takedown notices last month
Also specified in the report is whether or not Twitter takes action on these requests. Citing several instances, the post states that they have been maintaining a “long-standing policy to proactively notify users of requests for their account information unless we’re prohibited by law.” Twitter believes that these policies not only do their bit in informing people and creating awareness about things, but manage to keep everyone, including Twitter, more accountable. This report, Twitter believes “helps further these ambitions.”
Kessel's post also announced the popular microblogging platform's partnership with Herdict. Elaborating further on this the post states that Herdict “collects and disseminates real-time, crowdsourced information about Internet filtering, denial of service attacks, and other blockages”, and through this partnership they aim to “drive more traffic and exposure to Herdict”. The blog states that the partnership will also enable the “web community at large to help keep an eye on whether users can access Twitter around the world.”
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