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Pakistan’s requests to Twitter for account removal tripled in one year


Pakistan’s request to Twitter to remove accounts tripled from the January-June period in 2016 to the same period this year, a report by the social media giant said.

The removal requests “include worldwide legal requests… [Twitter]…receives from governments and other authorised reporters to remove or withhold content”.

The bi-annual transparency report says that the government made 24 requests in the first six months of this year, up from eight in the comparable period last year.

The requests in the July-December period last year stood at 13.

All removal requests were made by the government and none by the courts in Pakistan between January and June this year, the report says.

The information requests made by the government stood at seven, up from four in the preceding six-month period.

Asad Baig, Executive Director at Media Matters for Democracy, says that the increase is a “documented proof of a trend that we have seen towards censorship and crackdown on any dissenting opinions.” He also said that the government routinely linking social media to anti-state activities isn’t a “healthy trend for democracies”.

The report details removal and other requests made by the governments, courts and non-government organisations, and compliance, if any, by Twitter. The report states that almost 90% of the total volume of requests originated from only four countries, namely, France, Germany, Russia and Turkey.

The highest number of requests came from Turkey, accounting for approximately 45% of the overall worldwide total. The Turkish government and courts made a removal request for a total of 2,710 accounts. Turkey also had the highest number of withheld accounts at 204, followed by Russia at 87.

India’s request for account removal stood at 104, up from 96 from the July-December period last year and more than double from last year. Saudi Arabia made only four removal requests, compared to one from the preceding six-month period.

The writer works at Geo. She tweets @Sindhu_Abasi

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