Social media monitoring is a major task for governments all over the world. With more than 1.15 billion total users on the world’s biggest social network, the need grows. To be transparent with users – like Twitter and Google have been – now Facebook has released its first ever Transparency Report which gives details of the activities performed in the first half of 2013 (Jan to June).
According to PTI, Facebook states that government agents in 74 countries demanded information on about 38,000 Facebook users in the first half of this year, with about half the orders coming from authorities in the United States.
At a time when the world is witnessing massive unrest in several parts of the world, social networks like Facebook, Twitter, etc. have been great help in bolstering these movements. A fact that is not liked by most of the governments and was quite evident when the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called social media “the worst menace to society.”
The world witnessed massive anti-government protest in Turkey in May and June and the Facebook revealed data shows Turkey submitted 96 requests covering 173 users. Facebook said it provided some information in about 45 of those cases, but there is no information on what was turned over and why.
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Though Facebook’s spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg firmly states the company stands by its assertions that it gave no information regarding the Turkey protests. Colin Stretch, Facebook’s general counsel company further added that – “When we are required to comply with a particular request, we frequently share only basic user information, such as name.”
Requests from Indian Government
With 82 million users on the country’s biggest social network and a government that has been hellbound in following its agenda of monitoring social media, I am really not surprised that the country ranks at second in making requests right after US.
Second to US, India made 3,245 total requests along with 4144 users or accounts requests to Facebook in the January-June period of 2013. However, only 50 percent of Indian requests were addressed by Facebook. There is no further information on the nature of the requests that were addressed by Facebook in India.
UK with 1,975 requests, Germany with 1,886 requests and Italy with 1,705 requests follow US and India in making data requests from Facebook in H1 2013.
Facebook also highlighted that it has stringent processes in place to handle all government data requests and added,
“We scrutinise each request for legal sufficiency under our terms and the strict letter of the law, and require a detailed description of the legal and factual bases for each request. We fight many of these requests, pushing back when we find legal deficiencies and narrowing the scope of overly broad or vague requests.”
It has become pertinent for tech companies to come up clean after the massive revelations of PRISM, the US government’s snooping program. Facebook is the latest to join the likes of Google and Twitter to be transparent with its users on how often governments seek information about its users. The company wishes to make such revelations more often in the near further.
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