Twitter Announces User Notification Policy

Twitter has announced that it intends to display messages informing its users if tweets were blocked for legal purposes. Notices have been sent to affected accounts.

Twitter’s bi-annual Transparency Report also highlights trends in legal requests the company has received. Twitter users will now be provided with real-time information upon attempting to access blocked tweets or accounts.

If a user clicks on content that is prohibited by court order, a message will appear that states “This tweet from @username has been withheld in [country] in response to a legal demand.” Or, Tweets blocked to comply with local laws will read “This tweet from @username has been withheld in [country] based on local law(s).” There will also be messages specific to accounts that have been entirely blocked.

According to Twitter, during the first half of 2017 it received removal requests from roughly 45 countries, the majority from France, Germany, Russia and Turkey.

Twitter’s global legal policy director said “The more that we can share about our actions, the better the public can understand the various challenges, legal or otherwise, that we face and how we handle them. We are pleased to be able to share this step, but there is more to be done.”

The announcement can be seen, here.

Contact an FTC defense lawyer if you are interested in discussing Twitter’s Country Withheld Content tool.

Richard B. Newman is an Internet marketing compliance and regulatory defense attorney at Hinch Newman LLP focusing on advertising and digital media matters. His practice includes conducting legal compliance reviews of advertising campaigns, representing clients in investigations and enforcement actions brought by the Federal Trade Commission and state Attorneys General, commercial litigation, advising clients on promotional marketing programs, and negotiating and drafting legal agreements.

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Snippet from Twitter’s Transparency Report:

“Twitter was founded on a commitment to transparency. We launched our first Twitter Transparency Report to shine light on government requests back in the summer of 2012. Later that year, we announced our Country Withheld Content (CWC) tool, which we use to transparently handle global legal requests to remove content from Twitter. The primary goal of CWC is to avoid silent removals and maximize transparency of the content that we are compelled to remove to comply with local laws, court orders, and other legal demands.

We achieve this transparency through a combination of efforts. This includes providing direct notice of removal requests to affected users (when not otherwise prohibited), the use of visual indicators within the service, and by publishing the underlying legal demands (e.g., court orders) on Lumen, which serves as a public repository for content removal requests. Lumen, along with our Transparency Report, helps the public better understand the scope and scale of government censorship from around the world.

As our use of CWC has evolved over time, we are updating our in-product messaging when we withhold content to clarify why content was withheld and where. Users will now see one of the following two interstitials displayed on withheld content…”

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