Continued Progress in Transparency

By Chris Sonderby, VP & Deputy General Counsel

Today, we are releasing our latest Transparency Report for the first half of 2019.

At Facebook, we strive to be open and proactive in the way we safeguard users’ privacy, security and access to information online. That’s why we have published a transparency report each half since 2013. The scope of this report initially focused on the nature and extent of government requests we receive for user data. In the time since, we have expanded our report to include the volume of content restrictions based on local law, the number of global internet disruptions that limit access to our products and reports of intellectual property infringement.

Our Transparency Report also includes the fourth Community Standards Enforcement Report, which covers data on how we take action on violating content across our platforms. Guy Rosen, our VP of Integrity, goes in depth on these numbers in his post here.

Government Requests for User Data

In the first half of 2019, government requests for user data increased by 16% from 110,634 to 128,617. Of the total volume, the US continues to submit the largest number of requests, followed by India, the UK, Germany and France.

In the US, we received 50,741 requests, representing an increase of 23% more requests than last half, which is consistent with trends over time. Of all US requests, 66% included a non-disclosure order prohibiting Facebook from notifying the user. In addition, as a result of transparency updates introduced in the 2016 USA Freedom Act, the US government lifted the non-disclosure orders on 11 National Security Letters (NSLs) we received between 2014 and 2018. These requests, along with the US government’s authorization letters, are available below. Lastly, we’ve completed the internal review of our US national security reporting metrics and we continue to review our systems to ensure our accounting is consistent.

As we have said in prior reports, we always scrutinize every government request we receive for account data to make sure it is legally valid. This is true no matter which government makes the request. If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back, and will fight in court, if necessary. We do not provide governments with “back doors” to people’s information.

Content Restrictions

When content is reported as violating local law, but doesn’t go against our Community Standards, we may limit access to that content in the country where it is allegedly illegal. During this reporting period, the volume of content restrictions based on local law decreased globally by 50% from 35,972 to 17,807. This decrease follows an unusual spike last half in which we restricted 16,600 items in India based on a Delhi High Court order. Of the total volume, 58% of restrictions originated from Pakistan and Mexico.

Internet Disruptions

Because we believe that disrupting internet connectivity can undermine economic activity and free expression, we also monitor and report on the number of deliberate internet disruptions caused by governments around the world that impact the availability of our products. During this reporting period, we identified 67 disruptions of Facebook services in fifteen countries, compared to 53 disruptions in nine countries in the second half of 2018.

Intellectual Property

Finally, we continue to report on the volume and nature of copyright, trademark and counterfeit reports we receive each half — as well as the amount of content affected by those reports. During this reporting period, we took down 3,234,393 pieces of content based on 568,836 copyright reports, 255,222 pieces of content based on 96,501 trademark reports and 821,727 pieces of content based on 101,582 counterfeit reports.

Publishing this report reflects our ongoing commitment to transparency as we work to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.

You can see the full report for more information.

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