Covid19, governments vs freedom of speech. A boom in Twitter removal requests

The freedom to chirp is under attack. Twitter has received a record number of requests to remove posts and content. Senders of requests? Governments. Target? The journalists. So much for freedom of expression. Thanks to Covid-19, the pressure of executives around the world against fake news (real or alleged) has intensified, with some who would say that the space for possible authoritarian drifts has increased.

The Twitter report: in 2020 the requests for removal advanced by governments increase

According to an internal Twitter report, viewed by Reuters, in 2020 there was a sharp increase in requests from governments to delete tweets posted by journalists and the media. According to data from the social network created by Jack Dorsey, 199 accounts of journalists and media were the subject of 361 lawsuits and requests for removal in the second half of 2020. An increase of 26% compared to the first half of the year. In total, Twitter received 14,000 and 500 requests for information between July 1 and December 31, 2020, with 38,000 and 500 legal requests for removal. In 29% of cases, almost one in three, the request was accepted.

India in first place for removal requests, United States in second place

The list of countries and governments that have made the requests has not been released, but observing what is happening it is not difficult to imagine some of them. What is certain is that India is the main source of these demands. A sign of the authoritarian turn of the nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has faced the protests of farmers in recent months with yet another crackdown on rights. In second place the United States, which already with the Donald Trump affair have made it clear that it is not exactly an eldorado of the right to speak on social media.

Squeeze on the rights and authoritarian turn of governments with Covid-19

Also because digital sovereignties and the squeeze on social networks are practices that are spreading almost everywhere. These days, Cuba has started blocking access to Facebook and messaging apps like Telegram after protests against the regime have started. Last month Nigeria banned Twitter from the country and ordered television and radio stations not to use that tool to gather information. But many other governments around the world have restricted rights, for example in Southeast Asia but also in Europe, where Spain is working on a much-discussed new national security law that restricts several freedoms, including that to private property. in time of emergency.


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