Twitter gives U.S. government its user data 69 percent of the time

Twitter transparency report

Twitter complies with 69 percent of all U.S. government requests for user data, the company announced today. The revelation comes with the release of the social network’s second bi-annual Transparency Report.

During the six months between July 1 and December 31 of 2012, Twitter received 815 U.S. government requests for user data from 1,145 accounts. U.S. requests make up approximately 81 percent of the total government requests worldwide.

Of those 815 requests, more than 80 percent were issued with a subpoena or court order instead of a “probable cause” search warrant, which made up only 19 percent of data requests. Subpoenas, which lack judicial oversight, made up the bulk of the requests, at 60 percent, while court orders, which require the signature of a judge, made up 11 percent. Ten percent of requests fell into an “other” category.

Twitter’s “Guidelines for Law Enforcement” state that the company will attempt to inform users if their data has been requested. But the Transparency Report shows this is often not the case. Approximately 20 percent of government requests for Twitter user data were issued “under seal,” which means the company was legally barred from telling affected users about the requests. Another 56 percent were not under seal, but users were still not notified by Twitter because the request was either withdrawn, defective, or concerned emergency situations (when someone’s life or safety is on the line). Only 24 percent of requests resulted in users receiving notification.

While government requests for user data increased by about 17 percent, copyright notices remained far more common for Twitter, which received 3,68 notices related to copyright infringement, including takedown requests issued under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The number of copyright-related notices fell by 110 compared to the first six months of 2012.

Requests to remove particular tweets saw the greatest increase in the last six months of last year, having jumped from just six requests in the first half of 2012 to 42 requests in the second half. The jump follows a policy implemented by Twitter last year, which mandated that the company would only censor tweets in the country from which the removal request was made.

In addition to delivering the latest data, Twitter’s new Transparency Report has also been given a graphic-heavy facelift and its own website – The revamped Transparency Report comes “in celebration of” Data Privacy Day, today. Twitter’s manager of legal policy Jeremy Kessel wrote in a blog post that the company hopes the new Transparency Report will allow it to “more meaningful and accessible to the community at large.”

“We believe the open exchange of information can have a positive global impact,” wrote Kessel. “To that end, it is vital for us (and other Internet services) to be transparent about government requests for user information and government requests to withhold content from the Internet; these growing inquiries can have a serious chilling effect on free expression – and real privacy implications.”


Google Maps adds a new tab showing restaurants’ most popular dishes

Google Maps is testing a new Popular tab for restaurants to make it easier to order a tasty-looking dish you've spotted on the app. Some users are seeing it under the Menu tab, which already includes meal information for diners.
Social Media

Facebook F8 Developer Conference: Complete Coverage

When developers want to know what Facebook is working on, they head to F8. The annual two-day conference highlights the company’s latest technologies in development and is an opportunity to meet Facebook engineers. It’s also where CEO…
Social Media

Twitter: Now you can jazz up your retweets with GIFs, photos, and videos

Twitter for Android, iOS, and its mobile site now lets you add GIFs, photos, and videos to retweets. The feature, which the company said people have been asking for, can be enabled in a few quick taps.
Social Media

Tinder Lite will soon launch to bring the dating game into emerging markets

Tinder Lite, a lightweight version of the dating app, will soon launch in emerging markets where access to data may be limited. The app will look to bring more people into the dating game, as Tinder looks to maintain its growth.
Social Media

Update WhatsApp! Sophisticated attack installs spyware with just a call

A WhatsApp vulnerability left Android and iOS devices open to attack from sophisticated surveillance software that could be installed simply by calling the targeted person through the app.
Social Media

Twitter sorry for mistakenly storing and sharing some users’ location data

Twitter has revealed that a bug led to it accidentally storing and sharing location data for a number of iOS users. The issue, which has now been fixed, affected those operating more than one Twitter account from the app.

Photographer sues Ariana Grande after she posts his images of her on Instagram

A professional photographer is suing Ariana Grande after she posted photos on Instagram that he'd taken of her. Grande used the post to promote one of her albums, but the photographer says she used the photos without permission.
Social Media

Save me: How to download Instagram photos from any device

Browsing photos in Instagram is one thing, but saving them is another. Until recently, it wasn't easy to get your pics and data off the 'gram and saved elsewhere, but now you can download Instagram photos with just a few clicks.
Social Media

Instagram ditches plans for stand-alone Direct messaging app

Instagram is shuttering it's stand-alone messaging app, Direct, after testing it since 2017. While the messaging features remain intact inside Instagram, the separate app will be discontinued in the next few weeks.
Social Media

6 easy ways to archive all of your favorite Instagram videos

Saving Instagram videos should be just as easy as taking a screenshot. So, we've put together a list of the best apps and tools that save your favorite Instagram videos onto your phone or computer.
Social Media

Instagram’s new Explore grid tempts you to open your wallet

Instagram has made some changes to its Explore tab that might tempt you into the occasional shopping spree. It's also planning to add Stories to the grid, mixing them up with the existing photos and videos.
Social Media

Be the master of your own Insta-verse with multiple Instagram accounts

Whether you own a small business or have separate Instagram accounts for your five cats, we'll walk you through the process of switching between your multiple accounts on your Apple or Android devices.
Social Media

A fond farewell to Grumpy Cat, the internet’s most famous feline

The worst day ever. We say farewell and offer a fond remembrance for Grumpy Cat, the internet's most famous frowning feline, meme and a genuine sweetheart, who died at the age of seven. Exceptionally even tempered and tolerant, Grumpy Cat…

Treat yo' selfie with one of these 13 apps made to beautify your pics

Selfies might be a phenomenon second only to karaoke, but they're not the easiest thing in the world to create. Thankfully, these awesome selfie apps for Android and iOS will make beautifying your self-portraits easier than capturing them.