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Removal Requests

Removal requests include demands from governments and other authorized reporters that we have received to remove or withhold content on Twitter.

Governments and other authorized reporters 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. The number of removal requests reflected in this section only includes official legal process, such as court orders served on Twitter, and other legal requests that are specifically directed to our intake channels for law enforcement and other authorized reporters (“Legal Requests”). It does not include requests directed to our customer support team through our online support forms.

Historically, the removal requests section of the Twitter Transparency Report has provided insight into requests where accounts or Tweets ended up being withheld in a specific jurisdiction or no action was taken. Now, we’ve also included Legal Requests where reported content was removed due to Terms of Service (TOS) violations. This change enhances transparency around the actions we take in response to Legal Requests.

Latest report: Removal requests

July 1 - December 31, 2015

(NOTE: It may be necessary to side-scroll to view all of the table columns.)

CountryRemoval requests (Court Orders)Removal requests (Gov’t agency, police, other)Percentage where some content withheldAccounts specifiedAccounts withheldTweets withheldAccounts (TOS)Accounts (No Action)
Argentina--------
Australia030%20002
Bangladesh--------
Bosnia and Herzegovina010%10001
Brazil15322%1071107 (75)823
Canada080%80062
Colombia030%30021
Croatia--------
Cyprus--------
Czech Republic010%10001
Dominican Republic0110%110038
Ecuador0160%2000218
Egypt010%10001
Finland--------
France415019%305274 (54)91158
Georgia010%10001
Germany01020%101144
Greece040%40013
Hong Kong--------
India1390%47002126
Indonesia080%80053
Iraq--------
Ireland--------
Italy040%40040
2353%130018148
Kazakhstan040%1800135
Kenya100%10001
Kuwait030%30021
Lebanon--------
Luxembourg010%10001
Malaysia030%2400231
Maldives--------
Malta--------
Mexico--------
Mongolia01110%111002388
Montenegro--------
Netherlands0540%603 (2)04
New Zealand010%00000
Nigeria--------
Norway--------
Pakistan0120%3300924
Russia61,7295%1,7741482 (74)1,306380
Saudi Arabia010%10001
Serbia010%10001
Singapore--------
South Korea0790%131006170
Spain330%60015
Switzerland--------
Turkey4501,76123%8,0924143,003 (2,156)5304,992
United Arab Emirates--------
United Kingdom1215%120082 (77)1132
United States3980%107005849
Venezuela--------
TOTAL4864,1313%11,0924323,353 (2,440)2,2655,955

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

About the numbers

Between January 1 and July 31, 2015, we received a total of 4,617 removal requests (486 court orders and 4,131 other requests) from governments, law enforcement, and other authorized reporters. These requests originated from 36 countries, six of which are new in this reporting period: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Georgia, Luxembourg, and Serbia. These requests affected a total of 11,090 accounts: 2,263 of these accounts had some content removed for violating our Terms of Service, 2,872 accounts had some content withheld (account-level or Tweet-level), and no action was taken on the remaining 5,955 accounts.

Withheld content

The data includes all instances where we employed our Country Withheld Content (CWC) tool. Since our first report in 2012, we have used CWC in nine countries: Brazil, France, Germany, India, Japan, Netherlands, Russia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Over the second half of 2015, we withheld 432 accounts and 3,353 individual Tweets (pertaining to 2,440 accounts) in Brazil, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Recent examples:

Brazil

We received 11 court orders related to defamation. We complied with four of these orders, by withholding one account and 107 Tweets (pertaining to 75 accounts).

France

We complied completely or partially with three court orders related to defamation. We also withheld content violating French anti-discrimination laws in response to requests from Law Enforcement and other authorized reporters.

Germany

We received six requests from Germany, including four requests from Jugendschutz regarding prohibited symbols and illegal discriminatory content. We withheld one account and one Tweet from a different account in response to these requests.

Japan

We received one court order from Japan in relation to defamation and withheld one Tweet in response.

Netherlands

We complied with three requests from the Dutch Complaints Bureau for Discrimination on the Internet (Meldpunt), regarding three Tweets (pertaining to two accounts) because the content violated local anti-discrimination laws.

Russia

We received 1,729 removal requests from the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) regarding content determined to violate Russian laws, such as Federal Law 149-FZ. We withheld 14 accounts and 82 individual Tweets (pertaining to 74 accounts), which included content reported for promoting suicide and content posted by the controversial group known as Right Sector.

Turkey

We received 1,761 requests from Turkish authorities directing Twitter to remove content based on violations of personal rights and other local laws. For example, following terror attacks in Suruç, Ankara and Istanbul, we received requests to remove Tweets containing images of victims. In cases where the victims were identifiable, we withheld only those specific Tweets.

This reporting period also overlapped with Turkey’s follow-up elections in November of 2015. Between July and December of 2015, we filed legal objections with Turkish courts in response to 66% of the Turkish orders received, focusing many of our efforts on those demands seeking removal of content critical of public figures or allegations of corruption. Our objections prevailed 6% of the time.

Un-withheld content

This data includes instances where we have un-withheld content. Typically content is un-withheld when an appeal of a court order regarding particular content results in the original decision being overturned, or because a legal procedure expired.

During this reporting period, we un-withheld content in Brazil, Turkey, and France. NOTE: Un-withheld content may pertain to accounts or Tweets that were withheld prior to this current reporting period (July-December 2015).

Details:

Brazil

We un-withheld three previously withheld accounts for violating Brazilian electoral laws, due to the end of the electoral period.

France

We un-withheld seven Tweets, previously withheld for allegedly violating French laws, due to the absence of follow-up from the official reporter to clarify the nature of the legal violation.

Turkey

We un-withheld 21 accounts and 10 Tweets (pertaining to 10 accounts) previously withheld for allegedly violating Turkish laws, due to the absence of a legally required follow-up court order. We also un-withheld 33 Tweets (pertaining to 32 accounts) and one account that were previously withheld in response to a Turkish court order, due to the original decision being overturned. We also un-withheld two accounts based on successful objections.

Terms of Service violations

The newly added data includes instances where content was removed on the specified accounts for violating Twitter’s TOS.

Recent examples:

Japan

65% of the requests submitted by Japan’s government agencies resulted in the removal of some or all of the reported content, mainly for violating our child sexual exploitation policies.

Russia

75% of the demands from Russian authorities resulted in the removal of some or all of the reported content under Twitter’s TOS, mainly for violating our child sexual exploitation and abusive behavior policies.

South Korea

65% of the requests submitted by South Korean officials resulted in the removal of some or all of the reported content, mainly for violating our media and abusive behavior policies.

No action

This data includes instances where no accounts of Tweets were removed or withheld.

Recent examples:

Mongolia

We pushed back on 88 requests from Mongolia as we were unable to determine the issue reported or which law was allegedly being violated.

Russia

We did not take action on reports of Tweets linking to YouTube videos criticizing the Russian government, including a Tweet from a prominent figure from a Russian opposition party. We also did not take action on reports of content related to the Charlie Hebdo Twitter account, Tweets supporting the band Pussy Riot, or on a Tweet citing a book criticizing Lenin and Stalin.

Turkey

We received six court orders regarding a high profile whistleblower account. No content was withheld on this account.

United States

We received three court orders that failed to identify content on Twitter.

Footnotes

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • ‘Percentage where some content withheld’ does not include situations where a user decided to remove the content at issue him/herself.
  • ‘Accounts specified’ includes the number of accounts identified in the requests we’ve received.
  • ‘Accounts withheld’ refers to accounts that have been withheld in their entirety.
  • ‘Tweets withheld’ refers to Tweets that have been withheld at the individual Tweet level, and does not count the total number of individual Tweets from the ‘Accounts withheld’ column.
    • The number in parentheses indicates the number of unique accounts to which the withheld Tweets pertain. E.g., 107 (75) means 107 individual Tweets were withheld pertaining to 75 accounts.
  • ‘Accounts (TOS)’ includes the number of accounts where some content was removed for violating Twitter’s TOS.
  • ‘Accounts (no action)’ includes the number of accounts where no action (e.g., withholding or removal for violating our TOS) was taken.
  • Where permitted, Twitter has published copies of the removal requests which have resulted in withheld content to Lumen.