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India accounts for 24% of Facebook content removal requests: report

India is in second place when it comes to requesting removal of content from social media platforms. Russia tops the list of the top 10 countries, with 179,013 requested content removals. However, India accounts for 24% of the requests Facebook received from around the world for a specific platform, research shows.

In the report, Comparitech says, “Facebook received the highest number of government content removal requests overall, 308,434 in total. India made up the vast majority of these requests, with its 74,674 requests representing almost 25% of the total. Most of India’s claims (40%) were made in 2015, when 30,126 claims were submitted. Since then India’s requests had remained much lower, reaching only two or three thousand per year, except in 2018 when the requests rose again to just over 19,000. “

Interestingly, in 2015, the Supreme Court of India overturned Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act 2000 which made posting “offensive” comments online a punishable crime. ‘a prison sentence.

“This may have led to an influx of offensive comments on media like Facebook, or authorities turned to Facebook’s content removal system to try to combat things differently,” the report said.

Mexico comes second for Facebook deletion requests, with 45,217. Most of these requests (45%) were filed in the first half of 2017, shortly after Mexico started submitting requests. deletion, as its first digits are recorded for the latter part of 2016.

As a result, according to the report, Mexican officials may be “catching up” to content that they said violated local law. Mexico’s removal requests fell dramatically in 2018 (2,040 submitted in total) before increasing in 2019 (from 240% to 6,946) and in 2020 by 93% to 13,399.

France followed closely Mexico with 43,816 requests. “Again, most of these claims were submitted years ago, 37,695 or 86% were submitted in the second half of 2015. But unlike Mexico, claims from France have continued to decline year on year. in year with only 298 submitted in 2020. This dramatic peak in removal requests coincides with the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, ”says Comparitech.

Oddly, the United States is not at the top of removal requests, ranking 57th in its 27 removal requests since the report began.

Facebook’s transparency report suggests that a country may not be on the list either because Facebook’s services are not available there or because there has been no such item to report. The United States is not in the first, but the second does not seem likely either, especially when you consider the United States’ removal requests on other platforms.

According to the report, China tends not to bother going through content providers and their internal reporting mechanisms to censor content. “It just blocks entire sites and applications, forcing Internet service providers to ban access on behalf of the government. China has banned all of the websites we used in this comparison except LinkedIn and some Microsoft services. In these two areas, it dominates requests for removal of content, ”explains Comparitech.

Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft accounts for the vast majority of content removal requests. Yet requests received by other platforms also show interesting information about where governments are focusing their online censorship efforts.

In 2009, Google began recording the number of content removal requests received from courts and government agencies around the world, disclosing the figures on a six-month basis. Soon after, several other companies followed suit, including Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft and Wikimedia.

Comparitech has expanded its study to include Pinterest, Dropbox, Reddit, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Tumblr this year.

This year, Russia edged out all other countries with a 6-digit figure for government content requests, making 179,765 requests across all platforms. It is also the top ranked country for the number of requests submitted to Google, Reddit, TikTok, and Dropbox.

It’s also interesting how the UK and US rank 11th and 12th, respectively, for the number of content requests submitted, according to Comparitech.

Among platforms, the report says, the number of content deletions submitted to Twitter continued to increase dramatically in 2020 as well, when it nearly doubled to 80,744. “In fact, of all the platforms we do. We studied, Twitter is the only platform, with the exception of LinkedIn and Reddit, which only recently started submitting reports, which have noticed an increase in content removal requests every year. “

Why does Twitter seem to dominate content removal requests? After all, it doesn’t have the most users. Twitter has around 396.5 million users compared to 2.8 billion for Facebook.

Comparitech says, “The majority of the increase comes from Japan, India, South Korea and Indonesia. Japan Twitter was recently criticized for censoring government criticism. Other reasons could be the increase in scams, disinformation around elections and general violations of local laws. “

Russia leads the number of deletions of content requests to Google, accounting for 60% or 123,607 requests. “Almost 34% of Russia’s claims fall under national security, closely followed by copyright at 26% and regulated goods and services at 18%,” the report said.

Requests from Russia are significantly higher than those from second-largest Turkey, which sent just 14,242 requests, or 7% of all requests received. Turkey was closely followed by India at 10,138 with 4.89% and the United States at 9,933 with 4.79%. Defamation is the main reason for all requests from these countries, accounting for 39% of Turkey’s total, 27% of India’s total, and 58% of total US content removal requests.

YouTube and web searches are all prime targets for these removal requests. “Of all requests, 50% go to YouTube and 30% to web searches,” the report says.

Google has received several requests from Indian law enforcement agencies regarding 173 YouTube URLs depicting content related to COVID-19. The content reported ranged from conspiracy theories and religious hate speech related to COVID-19 to reporting and criticism of authorities’ handling of the pandemic.

“Up to 14 URLs have been removed for violating YouTube community guidelines, 30 URLs have been restricted in India based on local laws cited. Additional information was requested for 106 URLs, of which 10 URLs were not removed and 13 URLs were already down, ”the report said.