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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.

Latest report: Removal requests

July 1 - December 31, 2014

CountryRemoval requests - Court OrdersRemoval requests - Gov’t agency, police, otherPercentage where some content withheldAccounts specifiedAccounts withheldTweets withheld
Argentina 0 1 0% 2 0 0
Australia - - - - - -
Brazil 27 0 30%* 191 5* 101*
Canada 1 4 0% 3 0 0
Colombia - - - - - -
Cyprus - - - - - -
Ecuador 1 0 0% 3 0 0
France 1 34 43% 38 0 15
Germany 1 42 37% 42 14 6
Greece 0 1 0% 2 0 0
Hong Kong - - - - - -
India 1 14 7% 15 1 0
Indonesia - - - - - -
Ireland - - - - - -
Italy - - - - - -
4 15 21% 26 0 19
Kazakhstan 0 1 0% 2 0 0
Kenya 0 1 0% 1 0 0
Kuwait 0 2 0% 2 0 0
Mexico 0 2 0% 34 0 0
Netherlands 0 14 71% 14 0 12
Norway - - - - - -
Pakistan 0 4 0% 24 0 0
Russia 2 89 13% 91 3 9
South Korea 0 2 0% 2 0 0
Spain 0 1 0% 2 0 0
Turkey 328 149 50%* 2,642 62* 1820*
United Arab Emirates - - - - - -
United Kingdom 4 18 0% 40 0 0
United States 6 26 0% 60 0 0
Venezuela - - - - - -
TOTAL 376 420 13% 3,236 85* 1,982*

NOTE: The data in these reports is as accurate as possible, but may not be 100% comprehensive.

About the numbers

We have received 84% more removal requests impacting 348% more accounts since the previous reporting period. The majority of these requests came from Turkey (477), Russia (91), and Germany (43) resulting in the collective withholding of 79 accounts and 1,835 Tweets. Overall, 85 accounts and 1,982 Tweets were withheld in various countries around the world.

Since the last report:

  • Turkey - We have received 156% more requests, with the number of accounts specified growing over 765%. 
  • Russia - We have received 184% more requests; we complied with 13% of them.
  • Germany - We have received 2000% more requests; we complied with 37% of them.

Withheld content

The data includes all instances where we employed our Country Withheld Content (CWC) tool. Over the last six months of 2014, we continued to see an increase in the number of demands to remove content, including requests from three new countries (none of which resulted in any removals): Argentina, Kazakhstan, and Kenya. Since our first report was published in 2012, we have used CWC in nine countries: Brazil, France, Germany, India, Japan, Netherlands, Russia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Recent examples:

Brazil

We received 27 orders during this period, in which 18 of them related to Brazil’s General Election in October.

Germany

We received one court order regarding a commercial defamation matter and 42 requests from Jugendschutz regarding matters such as use of prohibited symbols and illegal discriminatory content.

Japan

We received 4 orders identifying specific content as defamatory.

Netherlands

We received 14 requests from Meldpunt Discriminate Internet regarding illegal discriminatory Tweets.

Russia

We received one court order and 89 requests from the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor).

The increasing volume of requests made by Russia include those issued under the authority of Federal Law 398. This law allows Russian authorities to restrict access to content that is deemed to be “extremist” or that leads to “mass actions.”

We denied several requests to silence popular critics of the Russian government and other demands to limit speech about non-violent demonstrations in Ukraine.

Turkey

We received 328 court orders and 149 requests from Turkish government agencies directing Twitter to remove content ranging from violations of personal rights to defamation of private citizens and/or government officials.

We filed legal objections with Turkish courts in response to more than 70% of Turkish orders received. Objections were filed where we believed the order interfered with freedom of expression law or had other deficiencies. Our objections to Turkish courts prevailed only ~5% of the time. 

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 Brazil and Turkey.

Details:

Brazil

We un-withheld two accounts and 80 Tweets previously found to be in violation of local electoral law by the Constitutional Court following the presidential election.

Turkey

We un-withheld three accounts and 196 Tweets following the acceptance of several objections that Twitter filed in the Turkish courts in response to various removal demands.

Footnotes

  • ‘Percentage where some content withheld’ does not include removal requests, copyright-related complaints, situations where a user decided to remove the content at issue him/herself, or requests 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 Chilling Effects.
  • 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 and pushback on demands to remove journalists’ accounts.