from the obfuscation-reporting dept
Twitter 1.0 had one of the most complete and thorough transparency reporting operations around. It was incredibly useful to anyone studying issues, especially regarding the all important information on government demands on the company, and Twitter’s compliance rate. Indeed, as we reported, while basically all of the other big tech companies folded when the government demanded they obfuscate how many requests they get from government, old Twitter (alone) pushed back and sued the government.
Considering the Elon-fueled Twitter Files narrative about “government intrusion” into Twitter’s business, you’d think that continuing that, and maybe even expanding such transparency reporting would be on the table. After all, Elon keeps insisting that “transparency is the key to trust.”
But… instead, we got nothing. Twitter’s last real transparency report covered the the second half of 2021. People who were at Twitter told me that Twitter had the report for the 1st half of 2022 ready to publish when Elon took over, but he fired everyone who worked on it, so it’s likely that he had no idea it even existed.
Earlier this year, we highlighted the lack of a new transparency report from Twitter, and wondered if the company would ever actually provide one.
So, I was actually happily surprised to see Twitter on Wednesday publish a blog post claiming to be “an update on Twitter Transparency Reporting”… until I read it. In typical Twitter fashion these days when the company doesn’t want to put a name to the garbage statements they put out, the blog post is attributed to “Twitter.”
And it has… all the energy of the kid who forgot to do his big school report and is scribbling away some nonsense in a notebook in the hallway outside of class the morning it’s due.
First, it finally admits what was obvious earlier this year: that it will not be publishing the report for the first half of 2022, though they claim it’s because they’re reviewing their approach to transparency reporting (which sounds like they finally realized they need to do something and can’t locate the report that was ready to go last year).
As we review our approach to transparency reporting in light of innovations in content moderation and changes in the regulatory landscape, we believe it’s important to share data from H1 2022 on our health & safety efforts. We won’t be publishing a formal transparency report for this period (January 1 – June 30, 2022) in our previous format.
Then, they give a very barebones summary of content removals for violating Twitters rules, which is only a very small part of the Twitter transparency reporting information.
As for government requests, which are the most important part of transparency reporting, Twitter provides this totally useless two paragraphs and… that’s it:
Around the world, Twitter received approximately 53,000 legal requests to remove content from governments during the reporting period. Twitter’s compliance rate for these requests varied by requester country. The top requesting countries were Japan, South Korea, Turkey and India.
Twitter received over 16,000 government information requests for user data from over 85 countries during the reporting period. Disclosure rates vary by requester country. The top five requesting countries seeking account information in H1 2022 were India, the United States, France, Japan, and Germany.
What the fuck? The level of detail is “Twitter’s compliance rate for these requests varied by requester country”? How? I mean, that’s completely useless. At least explain the compliance rate in each country. How difficult is that? Same with the disclosure rates on information.
This isn’t a transparency report. It’s an obfuscation report. And, if Elon is correct that “transparency is the key to trust,” this report suggests you shouldn’t trust Twitter one bit.