Progress on Our Commitment to Transparency

By Chris Sonderby, VP & Deputy General Counsel
  • We’re publishing our biannual transparency report for the first half of 2021 to provide details on how we address government requests for user data, content violating local law, global internet disruptions and intellectual property.
  • We’re adding a new section of the report for case studies and launching a new page in our Transparency Center for Global Restrictions.

Today, we are releasing our latest Transparency Report for the first half of 2021. 

As always, we strive to be open about the ways we protect users’ privacy, security and access to information online. That’s why we publish biannual transparency reports to provide detail on the numbers and maintain accountability in our work. Over the years, we’ve 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, most recently, our proactive efforts to protect intellectual property. In this latest report, we’ve added a new section for case studies, which includes a sample of instances where we produced some data in response to government requests from around the world. We’re also launching a new page in our Transparency Center that details Global Restrictions. Additionally, our Transparency Report includes the Community Standards Enforcement Report for Q3 of 2021, which provides data on how we take action against violating content across our platforms. 

Government Requests for User Data

During the first six months of 2021, government requests for user data increased 10.5% from 191,013 to 211,055. Of the total volume, the US continues to submit the largest number of requests, followed by India, Germany, France, Brazil and the UK.

In the US, we received 63,657 requests, which was 4% more than the total we received in the second half of 2020. Non-disclosure orders prohibiting Meta from notifying the user increased to 70% in the first half of 2021 from 69% in the previous half. In addition, as a result of transparency updates introduced in the 2016 USA Freedom Act, the US government lifted the non-disclosure orders on 28 National Security Letters we received between 2012 and 2020. These requests, along with the US government’s authorization letters, are available below.

As we have said in prior reports, we always scrutinize every government request we receive to make sure it is legally valid, no matter which government makes the request. We comply with government requests for user information only where we have a good-faith belief that the law requires us to do so. In addition, we assess whether a request is consistent with internationally recognized standards on human rights, including due process, privacy, free expression and the rule of law. When we do comply, we only produce information that is narrowly tailored to that request. If we determine that 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. For more information about how we review and respond to government requests for user data and the safeguards we apply, please refer to our FAQs.

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 the local violation is alleged. During this reporting period, the volume of content restrictions based on local law increased globally 11% from 42,606 in H2 2020 to 47,365 in H1 2021, driven mainly by increases in requests from Mexico, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Taiwan and Pakistan.

Internet Disruptions

We oppose shutdowns, throttling and other disruptions of internet connectivity and are deeply concerned by the trend towards this approach in some countries. Even temporary disruptions of internet services can undermine human rights and economic activity. That’s why we report the number of deliberate internet disruptions caused by governments around the world that impact the availability of our products. In the first half of 2021, we identified 62 disruptions of Meta technologies in 17 countries, compared to 91 disruptions in 18 countries in the second half of 2020.

Intellectual Property

Finally, we report on the volume and nature of copyright, trademark and counterfeit reports we receive each half as well as our proactive actions against potential piracy and counterfeits. During this reporting period, we took down 4,771,726 pieces of content based on 1,089,187 copyright reports; 674,245 pieces of content based on 420,100 trademark reports; and 1,807,003 pieces of content based on 94,124 counterfeit reports. We also proactively removed 8,955,499 pieces of content for copyright reasons and 286,796,957 pieces of content for counterfeit reasons.

Publishing this report furthers our deep commitment to transparency. You can see the full report for more information.

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