Facebook Transparency Report reveals government requests for data still increasing

Facebook law enforcement takedowns quadrupled in six months because of a school shooting video

"Fifty-seven percent of the data requests we received from law enforcement in the USA contained a non-disclosure order that prohibited us from notifying the user, up from 50% in our last report", said the company in a Facebook post announcing the report.

The number of user data requests Facebook received from governments around the world in first half of 2017 reached an all time high of 78,890, up 21 percent on the 64,279 requests it received in the second half of 2016.

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Facebook also said that for the first time, it has expanded the report beyond government requests to provide data regarding reports from rights holders related to intellectual property - covering copyright, trademark and counterfeit.

United States government requests for Facebook user data were more than double the 16,823 Google received in the period. The figure was up from 26,014 requests concerning 41,492 accounts in the second half of 2016. From 2013 through 2015, for instance, Facebook, Google, and Twitter all saw increases in government requests for user data. Facebook received between 0 to 499 NSLs in the first half of 2017 concerning 500 to 999 users.

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Every year, Facebook gets tens of thousands of requests for data from governments worldwide, including search warrants, subpoenas, or calls to restrict certain kinds of content. Fifty-seven percent of the data requests we received from law enforcement in the USA contained a non-disclosure order that prohibited us from notifying the user, up from 50% in our last report. Next was India with 12 percent, then the United Kingdom (9 percent), Germany (7 percent), and France (6 percent).

Facebook said overall the number of content restrictions for violating local law increased by 304% globally, compared to the second half of 2016, from 6,944 to 28,036. In any case, a lot of that figure can be followed back to a deplorable shooting at a school in Mexico, which brought about Facebook confining access to 20,506 bits of substance.

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The social media company also took down 217,265 posts from Facebook driven by counterfeit claims, and 108,094 from Instagram. The Indian government, agencies also made 163 emergency data requests and asked for access to 262 user data accounts under this category. Some 70,000 solicitations for copyright came to Instagram, with 685,000 bits of substance evacuated. Facebook suggested these shutdowns can create barriers for businesses and prevent people from sharing and communicating with their family and friends.

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