Released twice a year, the Twitter Transparency Report highlights requests made by a country’s government for account information, content removal, or copyright notice. For the first time, Lebanon made the list.
Between the time periods covering the month of July to the month of December 2013, a total of 45 governments have sent requests to Twitter asking them to release information or delete content. While the USA tops the list with 833 requests sent, Saudi Arabia tops the Arab world’s list with 110 requests. The other Arab countries that have sent requests are Kuwait, the UAE, Oman, Qatar, and Lebanon with 1 to 9 requests sent (Twitter does not include specific numbers where fewer than 10 requests were received).
Twitter explained in its transparency report that a typical government request is in connection to an ongoing criminal investigation and is always sent via their “Law Enforcement Request” page. In all cases, the user is informed and is allowed to challenge the request, unless the law prevents that from happening.
Out of the requests made by Arab governments during the time periods mentioned, only Lebanon and Saudi Arabia were given some information with 67 percent and 5 percent, respectively. Requests made by Kuwait, the UAE, Oman, and Qatar didn’t result in any information being released.
Speaking to Lebanese news channel Al Jadeed, SMEX’s Mohamad Najem suggested that a possible reason for Lebanon’s sudden appearance is the volatile situation in the country and in particular the fact that Twitter has been used to coordinate attacks on Lebanese soil. A Q&A was released by SMEX discussing the topic (Arabic).