Turkey and Russia are demanding more data from Twitter than ever before


Putin Erdogan

Burhan Ozbilici/AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan shake hands after a joint news conference at the new Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Dec. 1, 2014.

Turkey and Russia both feature prominently in Twitter's latest Transparency Report, which shows a massive surge in takedown requests and demands for user information over the last six months. Both countries have come under criticism over their increasing authoritarian crackdowns on free speech and dissent.


The biannual report, which includes 31 countries, shows an overall 84% increase in requests for the removal of information between July and December 2014 than in the previous six months, impacting 348% more accounts. There's also been an overall 40% increase in requests for information on Twitter users.

Requests by the Russian government for the removal of information almost tripled, from 33 to 91. Thirteen percent of Russia's most recent requests were granted. For perspective, the US went from 31 to 32.

Complimentary Tech Event
Transform talent with learning that works
Capability development is critical for businesses who want to push the envelope of innovation.Discover how business leaders are strategizing around building talent capabilities and empowering employee transformation.Know More

But Russia looks meek in comparison to Turkey. Over six months, the transcontinental state asked for 477 removals - and was granted 50% of them - up from 186 six months prior.

The trend is even starker when it comes to requests for information. In the first half of 2014, Russia made no requests. In the second half, it made 108. Turkey, meanwhile, jumped from 24 requests over six months to 359 - fourteen times as many. No requests for information were granted for either country.


The US leads the world in requests, making 1,622 in the most recent report. Eighty percent of these were granted.

Overall, there were 2,871 requests for information in the latter half of 2014 from different 58 countries, up from 2,058. And there were total 796 removal requests from 31 countries, up from 433.

What's behind this surge? Twitter notes that Russia's information requests are likely tied to the introduction of a controversial new "bloggers law" in August 2014, which requires Russian blogs with more than 3,000 daily readers to register with the government. A spokesperson for Human Rights Group called it "another milestone in Russia's relentless crackdown on free expression."

President Erdogan of Turkey claims that "nowhere in the world is the media is as free as it is in Turkey," but his government continues to jail journalists in what critics allege are politically motivated arrests. The country has also previously blocked Twitter after it was used to organise ant-government protests. Laws introduced in 2014 allow the telecoms authority to block websites and content within hours, without the need for a court order.