Illustration photo – Logo of the American Internet company Twitter.
Washington – Since billionaire Elon Musk took over Twitter last October, the company has fully complied with more than 80 percent of government and court requests to remove content, up from about 30 percent previously. This follows from an analysis published on Thursday by the technology magazine Rest of World. According to Forbes, the analysis reveals that Musk's promise to reduce political censorship does not correspond to reality. Forbes reached out to Twitter for comment, but says it only received an automated response in the form of a poo emoji, which the company has used to respond to press requests for comment for more than a month.
Since Musk's takeover of Twitter, the firm has received 971 government takedown requests and fully complied with 808 of them, according to the analysis. It partially complied with another 154. Most of the recent requests came from India, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Germany, which have tightened internet regulation in the past year, but no request came from the United States, according to the analysis.
The current numbers show a sharp increase in Twitter's cooperation with authorities compared to six months before Musk took over, when Twitter fully complied with 280 of 550 requests, or about 51 percent. After Musk's purchase of Twitter, this figure increased to 83 percent.
The analysis uses information from the Lumen database, which is run by the Berkman Klein Center For Internet & Society at Harvard University, which maps requests for removal of online content. Twitter and other technology companies such as Google and Wikipedia share this data with the Lumen database voluntarily.
When Musk bought Twitter, he said he wanted to strengthen free speech and limit political bias, as he considered the network to be left-leaning. However, he has already faced several controversies over free speech, including accusations of censorship, when dozens of tweets about a BBC documentary critical of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were taken down in January following a request from India's information ministry. Twitter also suspended several accounts that tracked the private jets of billionaires, including Musk's.
Musk justified his purchase of Twitter by trying to provide a “common digital square where a wide range of opinions can be healthyly debated.” He gave several journalists access to the internal communications of the company's employees from the time before he owned the company. At the time, key employees dealt with issues such as the blocking of former President Donald Trump's account or the dissemination of a New York Post (NYP) report on Hunter Biden's business activities. He also reinstated some previously blocked Twitter accounts, including Trump's, and fired about ten percent of Twitter's staff.