Our Continuing Commitment to Transparency

By Chris Sonderby, VP & Deputy General Counsel

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

At Facebook, we’ve published biannual transparency reports since 2013 because we strive to be open and proactive in the way we safeguard users’ privacy, security and access to information online. While our initial reports focused on the nature and extent of government requests we receive for user data, we have expanded our report over the years 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 fifth Community Standards Enforcement Report, which includes data on how we take action against 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

During the last six months of 2019, government requests for user data increased by 9.5% from 128,617 to 140,875. 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 51,121 requests, an increase of 1% compared to the first half of 2019. Of all US requests, 67% 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 six National Security Letters we received between 2015 and 2017. These requests, along with the US government’s authorization letters, are available below.

As always, we scrutinize every government request we receive to make sure it is legally valid, no matter which government makes the request. If a request appears 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 11% from 17,807 to 15,826. Of the total, Russia, Pakistan and Mexico accounted for almost half of global content restrictions.

Internet Disruptions

Because we believe that disrupting internet connectivity can undermine economic activity and free expression, we also report 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 45 disruptions of Facebook services in 6 countries, compared to 67 disruptions in 15 countries in the first half of 2019.

Intellectual Property

Finally, we report on the volume and nature of copyright, trademark and counterfeit reports we receive each half — as well as the amount of content impacted by those reports. During this reporting period, we took down 3,139,315 pieces of content based on 576,423 copyright reports; 284,090 pieces of content based on 137,123 trademark reports; and 1,141,103 pieces of content based on 77,866 counterfeit reports.

Publishing this report reflects our ongoing commitment to transparency.

You can see the full report for more information.

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