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Removal requests

Removal requests include government requests (and other complaints for removal of content from authorized reporters) we have received to remove or withhold content on Twitter.

Governments generally make removal requests for content that may be illegal in their respective jurisdictions. For example, we may receive a court order requiring the removal of defamatory statements, or law enforcement may ask us to remove prohibited content.

Removal requests

January 1 - June 30, 2014

CountryRemoval requests (Court Orders)Removal requests (Gov’t agency, police, other)Percentage where some content withheldAccounts specifiedAccounts withheldTweets withheld
Hong Kong100%100
South Korea------
United Arab Emirates010%1300
United Kingdom3146%2202
United States5260%4200

NOTE: The data in these reports is as accurate as possible, but may not be 100% comprehensive. It may be necessary to side-scroll to see all the table columns depending on the screen resolution.

About the numbers

We have received 14% more removal requests during the first half of 2014 than we received during the prior reporting period. The majority of these requests came from Turkey (186), France (108), and Russia (32), resulting in the collective withholding of 25 accounts and 224 Tweets. Overall, 25 accounts and 251 Tweets were withheld in various countries around the world.

Withheld content

The data includes all instances where we employed our Country Withheld Content (CWC) tool. Over the last six months, we have continued to see an increase in the number of requests received, including requests from three new countries (none of which resulted in any removals): Colombia, Cyprus, and Norway. The resulting number of withholdings has also increased, with content being withheld in six countries: France, Japan, Netherlands, Russia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Recent examples:


We received over 100 requests from a national advocacy association regarding illegal discriminatory content in France.


We received a court order directing Twitter to remove several defamatory Tweets in Japan.


We received a request from the Dutch Complaints Bureau for Discrimination on the Internet regarding illegal discriminatory content in the Netherlands.


We received more than 30 requests from the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) regarding content implicating Federal Law 139 and Federal Law 398.


We received over 60 court orders directing Twitter to remove content in Turkey regarding violations of personal rights and defamation of both private citizens and government officials.

United Kingdom

We received a court order seeking the removal of defamatory Tweets in the UK.

Un-Withheld Content

The data also includes instances where we have un-withheld content (marked with an asterisk ‘*’). As previously noted, our policy is to notify users of requests to withhold their content unless we’re prohibited from doing so. It is also our policy to restore access to content whenever we are not prohibited from doing so. During this reporting period, we un-withheld content in Pakistan and Turkey.



Following a demand made by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to block content which violated local blasphemy law that we had originally complied with, we reversed our action and restored access to all previously withheld content (23 accounts and 15 Tweets). More information about the un-withheld content in Pakistan is available on Chilling Effects.


We un-withheld content on two separate occasions in Turkey during this period. The first instance was outlined in our blog post from March, when we challenged the government’s ban on access to Twitter. The second time we un-withheld an account followed our successful appeal of a court order that we had originally complied with. More information on that situation is available on Chilling Effects.


  • ‘Percentage where some content withheld’ does not include removal requests, copyright-related complaints, or court orders that resulted in account suspensions for violating the Twitter Rules.
  • Each request may identify multiple items to be removed. For example, a single request may ask us to remove individual Tweets or an entire user account.
  • ‘Accounts specified’ includes the number of accounts identified in the government requests we’ve received.
  • Where permitted, Twitter has published copies of the removal requests which have resulted in withheld content to Lumen.
  • We may not comply with every request or all aspects of a request for a variety of reasons. For example, we do not comply with requests that fail to identify content on Twitter.