FAQs

What is this report and why are you releasing it?

This report is part of our ongoing effort to share more information about the requests we receive from governments in countries where our service is available. This report provides country-level information, consistent with applicable law, about 1) government requests for data about people who use the Facebook family of products including Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram, and 2) content restrictions in places where our services are otherwise available. We intend to release this information on a regular basis.

What does it mean if my country is not listed?

A country would not be listed if it has not made any requests for data or content restrictions in the time period covered by the report.

Government and Law Enforcement Requests for Data



What is a government data request?

Government officials sometimes make requests for data about people who use Facebook as part of official investigations. The vast majority of these requests relate to criminal cases, such as robberies or kidnappings. In many of these cases, these government requests seek basic subscriber information, such as name, registration date and length of service. Other requests may also seek IP address logs or account content. We have strict guidelines in place to deal with all government data requests: https://www.facebook.com/safety/groups/law/guidelines/

Do you report every data request that you have received from every government around the world?

This report covers all government requests for data for the second six months of 2015, except for certain types of national security requests by the U.S. government, which are subject to a reporting delay as mandated by law.

Do you report data on U.S. national security requests?

Yes. We report the number and nature of U.S. national security data requests, including breakdowns of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act orders that seek the content of accounts or non-content information (such as subscriber name) and the number of National Security Letters we received. Pursuant to U.S. Department of Justice requirements, these numbers are reported within ranges of 500 and FISA requests are subject to a six month reporting delay.

Does this report include information about requests received by other Facebook apps?

This report includes information about requests related to our various products and services including Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram unless otherwise noted.

What is non-content data?

Non-content data information may include person’s name, location and IP history.

Do you report the number of requests you receive via the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) process?

Yes. Requests received through the MLAT process are included in our report. We are unable to identify the precise number of requests we received through this channel since they result in the issuance of a search warrant or court order under U.S. law and do not always indicate that they are the product of an MLAT request. MLATs provide a formal mechanism for countries to cooperate in criminal cases. Countries that have an MLAT with the United States may use this channel to seek data from a provider such as Facebook.

MLATs provide a formal mechanism for countries to cooperate in criminal cases. Countries that have an MLAT with the United States may use this channel to seek data from a provider such as Facebook.

Did you receive any non-disclosure orders in the United States that prohibited notice to users?

Yes. For the period between July and December 2015, approximately 60% of the legal process we received from authorities in the United States contained a non-disclosure order that prohibited notice to users.

Government Requests to Restrict Access to Content



What is a government request to restrict content?

Governments sometimes ask companies like Facebook to restrict access to content that they believe violates local law. If, after careful legal review, we find that the content is illegal under local law, then we make it unavailable only in the relevant country or territory. This report provides country-level information about government requests to restrict content in places where our services are otherwise available.

What do the content restriction numbers represent?

This report provides country-level information about requests from governments around the world to restrict content. We have included in this report instances in which we have removed content that governments have identified as illegal, including those instances that may have been brought to our attention by non-government entities, such as members of the Facebook community, NGOs and charities. For example, Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany so if it is reported to us we will restrict this content for people in Germany.

Do you report government requests to remove content that violates Facebook’s Community Standards?

No. The report does not include government requests regarding content that violates Facebook’s Community Standards, such as child exploitative material. If a reported piece of content violates our Community Standards, then we will remove it completely from our site.

Do you receive requests from law enforcement to disable prisoner accounts?

Yes. In the second half of 2015, we disabled 53 U.S. prisoner accounts and 74 U.K. prisoner accounts where governmental authorities identified either unlawful access to our service or safety issues.

Can you provide an example of a request to restrict content based on local law and how the company responded?

Yes, here are a few examples to illustrate some of the content restriction requests we have received and how we responded:

  • Date: November 2015
  • Content: Photo of terrorist attack victims.
  • Request: Following the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, we received a request from L’Office Central de Lutte Contre la Criminalité Liée aux Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication (OCLCTIC), a division of French law enforcement, to remove a number of instances of a photo taken inside the Bataclan concert venue depicting the remains of several victims. The photo was alleged to violate French laws related to protecting human dignity.
  • Result: We determined that the photo did not violate our Community Standards when it was shared to denounce the attack or to show compassion for victims. We restricted access to 32,100 such instances of the photo in France, but not in other countries.

  • Date: September 2015
  • Content: Image depicting a boy urinating on the Indian National Flag.
  • Request: We received a request from law enforcement in India to remove an image depicting a boy urinating on the Indian National Flag. Law enforcement alleged the content was prohibited by laws regarding respect for the national flag and that the image could cause a serious law and order problem.
  • Result: We determined that the photo did not violate our Community Standards. We reviewed the content and made the photo inaccessible in India.

  • Date: December 2015
  • Content: A number of Facebook groups related to raffles.
  • Request: We received a request from the UK Gambling Commission to remove several groups advertising and coordinating raffles.
  • Result: We reviewed the pages and determined that the groups did not violate our Community Standards. We restricted access to the groups in the UK, but not in other countries.

  • Date: October 2015
  • Content: A page protesting a county animal control agency.
  • Request: We received a request from a county prosecutor's office to remove a page opposing a county animal control agency, alleging that the page made threatening comments about the director of the agency and violated laws against menacing.
  • Result: We reviewed the content and determined that the page did not contain credible threats and therefore did not violate our Community Standards. We took no other action on the page for reasons of the public interest.

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