Semi-Raw Data: Top Ten Countries by Twitter Removal Requests

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The number of official requests to remove Twitter content is growing fast. In the first half of 2015, Twitter received 1,013 requests. In the second half they received four times as many, 4,618. This includes removal requests from both court orders and government agencies.

So which country is most active at censoring Twitter? In absolute numbers, Turkey is the winner by a mile, with 2,211 requests in the second half of 2015. Recep Tayyip Erdo?an really, really doesn’t like to be insulted.

But if you adjust for number of Twitter users, Turkey comes in second. I had to guess at the number of Twitter users in Mongolia, but even guessing conservatively they amassed an impressive 555 removal requests per million Twitter users. I’m not sure what that’s all about.

Among Western countries, France is the leader by a bunch, with 47 removal requests per million users. The US and Britain, which have high absolute numbers thanks to their very high Twitter usage, clock in at a fairly modest 2.5 requests per million Twitter users.

Take these numbers with a big grain of salt. First off, it’s hard to get good data on Twitter users per country. I think I’m in the right ballpark, but there are definitely some large error bars on this data. Second, removal requests don’t have to be aimed only at a country’s own Twitter users. Countries like the US and France likely have a fairly worldwide approach to this sort of thing.

Still, this gives you at least a rough idea of which countries are most active at trying to remove both Twitter accounts and individual tweets. Comments?

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In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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