India has topped the list of countries in terms of sending content removal requests to technology companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft and open encyclopaedia Wikimedia, revealed a study by Britain-based tech research firm Comparitech. The Chinese government, which is known for censoring online content, did not find a place in the list of top 10 governments sending content removal requests to the social media companies. "China has banned all of the websites we have used in this comparison, except some of Microsoft's services, so few censorship requests are required," Paul Bischoff, an editor at Comparitech, wrote in a blog post on October 1. The findings come at a time when India is trying to find ways to fight misinformation spread on social media.
India is followed by Russia, Turkey, France, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Pakistan, the US and the UK in the top 10. India and Russia are well ahead, accounting for 19.86 and 19.75 per cent of the overall number of removal requests (390,764), respectively, Bischoff said. While India sent 77,620 content removal requests, Russia sent 77,162 requests during the study period. However, these two countries do not always dominate the top spots across all channels.
While Facebook received most of the content takedown requests from India, Google got it from Russia, Microsoft from China, Twitter from Turkey and Wikimedia from the US. In fact, a vast majority, more than 90 per cent, of India's government content removal requests went to Facebook, the findings showed. "The largest increase in the number of content removal requests on Facebook came in 2015: a 313.37 per cent increase over the previous year from 18,481 to 76,395. France made the biggest number of requests in 2015, accounting for nearly 50 per cent of all the requests," Bischoff wrote.
For the study, the researchers collated all data to find out which governments censor online content the most and which channels are targeted by each government. They studied the number of requests put through to Facebook from July 2013 to December 2018, the number of requests received by Google from July 2009 to July 2018, number of requests put through to Twitter from January 2012 to July 2018, number of requests that Microsoft received from January 2015 to December 2018 and the number of requests submitted to Wikimedia from July 2012 to December 2018.