Transparency Report, Second Half 2021

By Chris Sonderby, VP & Deputy General Counsel


  • We’re publishing our biannual transparency report for the second half of 2021 to provide details on how we address government requests for user data, content violating local laws, global internet disruptions and intellectual property.

Today, we are releasing our latest Transparency Report for the second 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. Additionally, our Transparency Report includes the Community Standards Enforcement Report for Q1 of 2022, which provides data on how we take action against violating content across our platforms. 

Government Requests for User Data

During the last six months of 2021, global government requests for user data increased 2% from 211,055 to 214,777. 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 59,996 requests, which was 6% less than the total we received in the first half of 2021. Non-disclosure orders prohibiting Meta from notifying the user remained consistent at 70% in the first and second halves of 2021. In addition, as a result of transparency updates introduced in the 2016 USA Freedom Act, the US government lifted the non-disclosure orders on 12 National Security Letters we received between 2017 and 2021. 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 8% from 47,365 in H1 2021 to 50,959 in H2 2021.

Internet Disruptions

We oppose shutdowns, throttling and other disruptions of internet connectivity and we remain 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 second half of 2021, we identified 38 disruptions of Facebook services in 12 countries, compared to 62 disruptions in 17 countries in the first half of 2021.

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. In connection with our previously reported data for H1 2021, we discovered we were not accounting for some proactive copyright removals due to an error in the way our technology counted these violations, specific to Rights Manager. This resulted in an undercounting of the number of proactive copyright removals for that reporting period. We have reviewed and resolved this issue and have adjusted the numbers to reflect those removals. Specifically, ​​we proactively removed 16.7 million pieces of content for copyright reasons in H1 2021 (previously reported as 9 million).

During this reporting period for H2 2021, we took down 4,384,719 pieces of content based on 1,217,892 copyright reports; 709,642 pieces of content based on 332,340 trademark reports and 2,121,209  pieces of content based on 97,569 counterfeit reports. We also proactively removed 30,245,249 pieces of content for copyright reasons and 223,770,855 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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