Since Elon Musk took over, the short message service Twitter or X has been handing over data to German law enforcement authorities much more freely. The Washington Post learned this from three federal prosecutors. Especially when it comes to accusations of hate speech, the picture has completely changed. Before Musk’s takeover, Twitter almost never shared data on alleged hate crimes. The company now does this almost always, the US newspaper quotes the responsible public prosecutor in Cologne. We can only speculate as to what exactly is responsible for the short message service’s greatly increased willingness to cooperate. X himself refused to comment.
Accusation of “double standards”
In the last six months before the takeover, Twitter said it passed on user data to German authorities in 285 cases; the short message service rejected more than half of the requests at the time. Most recently, X gave such data to Bavarian prosecutors alone in 50 to 100 cases per month. Typically it involves names, email addresses and IP addresses. In Frankfurt and Cologne, X was also significantly more willing to hand over requested user data. According to representatives of the public prosecutor’s office, the amount of problematic content on the platform also increased during the same period, and Musk allowed thousands of banned accounts to return.
It was already pointed out in the spring that the short message service appears to be working more willingly with authorities, especially in Turkey, Germany and India. “Before Elon Musk, Twitter regularly evaluated government requests for user data and sometimes rejected them if they posed a threat to dissidents or free expression,” the Washington Post now quotes Yoel Roth. He led the trust and security team at Twitter and now adds, “Complying with the regulations is the easy option.” A possible explanation would be that after Elon Musk’s mass layoffs, X no longer has enough employees to resist the requests.
Overall, the changed approach shows that the owners of large platforms have enormous influence on how they cooperate or not with governments, the US newspaper quotes the former UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye. Yoel Roth also points out the different reactions of X/Twitter to inquiries about ordinary users and Donald Trump. Roth calls it “double standards” and “frankly ridiculous” how much effort the platform has gone to to protect the former US president’s data while all resistance appears to have been abandoned elsewhere.
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