When Elon Musk first spoke of his plans for Twitter, the American people’s interest was piqued. The eccentric billionaire promised to restore the platform’s ethos of free speech, thereby “unlocking” the true potential of the powerful communication tool.
But this hasn’t exactly been the case. Musk has rolled out a number of different subscription-style changes to the network, much to the dismay of some of Twitter’s most famous and prolific users, sure, but there was no opening of the freedom flood gates.
In fact, a new bit of reporting suggests that the new Twitter is actually doing more government-sponsored censorship than it was prior to Musk’s takeover.
Twitter’s self-reported data shows that, under Musk, the company has complied with hundreds more government orders for censorship or surveillance — especially in countries such as Turkey and India.
The data, drawn from Twitter’s reports to the Lumen database, shows that between October 27, 2022 and today, Twitter received a total of 971 requests from governments and courts. These requests included orders to remove controversial posts, as well as demands that Twitter produce private data to identify anonymous accounts. Twitter reported that it fully complied in 808 of those requests, and partially complied in 154 other cases. (For nine requests, it did not report any specific response.)
And it gets worse…
Most alarming, Twitter’s self-reports do not show a single request in which the company refused to comply, as it had done several times before the Musk takeover. Twitter rejected three such requests in the six months prior to Musk’s takeover, and five in the six months prior to that.
More broadly, the figures show a steep increase in the portion of requests that Twitter complies with in full. In the year before Musk’s acquisition, the figure had hovered around 50 percent, in line with the compliance rate reported in the company’s final transparency report. After Musk’s takeover, the number jumps to 83 percent (808 requests out of a total of 971).
Musk has consistently suggested that Twitter may be on the verge of bankruptcy, instilling a bit of doubt in his decision to purchase the company for over $40 billion.
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