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US government requests for Twitter user data drop 6%

The government made the most requests for user information in the second half of 2018 -- about one-third of all requests, Twitter reports.

Leon Neal/Getty Images

Twitter said Thursday that requests for user data from the US government declined 6% in the second half of 2018 compared with the previous reporting period.

The social media giant received 6,904 requests for information about users on 11,112 accounts, Twitter said in its latest transparency report. Twitter said it supplied information on 56% of the requests.

The US made the most requests for user data during the period, accounting for roughly one-third of all queries: 2,092 requests for data on 3,860 accounts.  

Twitter also said it suspended more than 166,000 accounts for activities related to terrorism, a 19% decline from the previous reporting period. Twitter credited its internal tools with flagging 91 percent of the accounts.

"The trend we are observing year-on-year is a steady decrease in terrorist organizations attempting to use our service," Twitter said in its report. "This is due to zero-tolerance policy enforcement that has allowed us to take swift action on ban evaders and other identified forms of behavior used by terrorist entities and their affiliates. In the majority of cases, we take action at the account setup stage -- before the account even Tweets."

The decline is welcome news for social media sites, which have become a popular conduit for terrorist groups to share their ideas and recruit people to their cause. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have strict rules against posting hate speech and will remove such content and accounts when they're discovered.

Nearly 457,000 accounts were suspended during the period for violations related to child sexual exploitation on the platform, a drop of 6%. Of those accounts, 96% were discovered using a combination of PhotoDNA and internal tools, Twitter said.

Twitter also said it received about 8% fewer requests to remove content compared with the previous period.