Twitter recorded a 26% increase in requests from global governments to remove content on the social media platform from verified journalists and news outlets in the second half of 2020 compared to the first half.
Global governments made 361 tweet removal requests from verified journalists and/or news outlets compared to just 199 requests last year between July 1 and Dec. 31 of 2020 amid COVID-19, Twitter's latest transparency report released Wednesday shows.
Removal requests came mostly from India (128 requests) and Turkey (108), followed by Pakistan (52), Russia (28), Brazil (16), Mexico (9), Thailand (9), Ireland (3), France (2), Colombia (2) and Venezuela (2).
In total, five of the 361 tweets were removed in accordance with national laws.
Reuters first reported the numbers on Wednesday after Twitter gave the outlet an exclusive look at its latest data.
Twitter also received more than 14,600 information requests from governments, including more than 2,000 emergency information requests, targeting more than 51,000 accounts in total. The company saw a 15% increase in information requests during the second half of 2020 and complied with 30% of requests, according to the report.
India and the United States were the top two governments making information requests to Twitter, followed by Japan and France. India made 46% more requests during the second half of 2020 compared to the first half, while the U.S. made 5% fewer information requests, though the number of specified accounts in U.S. information requests increased by more than 200%.
Speaking Wednesday on Twitter's audio feature, Twitter Spaces, Vijaya Gadde, the company's legal, policy and trust & safety lead, said the point of Twitter's biannual transparency report is to build a "culture of accountability" around the world.
She added that Twitter understands people will not be happy "in either direction" of Twitter's content moderation decisions, with some users thinking the website is moderating too much while others think it is not doing enough.
During Wednesday's discussion, Twitter's head of site integrity Yoel Roth echoed a statement oft-repeated by Facebook executives. He said people don't want Twitter to "be an arbiter of truth."
The platform and its content moderators, he said, try to only step in when misinformation is "immediately harmful" to users. Twitter is focused on removing content that could embolden people to make harmful decisions.
Roth gave the example of removing a tweet that might suggest drinking bleach to cure COVID-19.
The website said in a Wednesday blog post that Twitter's "operations were severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic during the latter half of 2020," and that as a result of varying restrictions related to the virus around the world, Twitter increased its "use of machine learning and automation to take a wide range of actions on potentially misleading and manipulative content."