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Facebook Reports an Increment in State Requests for Personal User Data

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Facebook revealed that this year has seen governments’ requests for user data go up by up to 18%.

In the first half of 2015, Facebook reveals that requests from different states around the world for consumer information on its platforms that include Facebook’s main site, WhatsApp, Messenger as well as Instagram, went up from about 34, 928 in the first half of 2014 to 41, 214 in the same period this year.

According to the report, the U.S. topped the list of governments requesting for more data as compared to any other country across the globe. During the last half of 2014, the government made data requests for up to 21, 731 accounts, a figure that increased to 26, 579 in the first half of 2015. Facebook said that it only provided some of the requested data in about 80% of the requests made.

In the first half of 2015, Facebook was asked to take note of about 20, 568 pieces of content and figure that stood at 9,707 during the last half of 2014. Of all these requests, India accounted for a larger part of them, asking the social media company to restrict up to 15, 155 pieces of content.

“Overall, we have seen an increase in government requests and content restrictions for data across the globe”, Chris Sonderby, who is Facebook’s deputy general counsel, said in a statement.

Facebook has more than 1.5 billion users on its main social networking platform. However, when those using Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger are also included, the figure might bulge, but not that much since most of these users are probably on all four platforms.

The idea of providing biannual updates with respect to government requests began in 2013 after it was alleged that American tech companies, Facebook included, give the government lots of personal user data. The allegations, which were brought forward by Edward Snowden, greatly threatened to undermine the company’s reputation given that billions already trust it with some of their most intimate stories of their lives.

At the time, the social networking giant denied these allegations and since then, the company has been fighting for much better transparency when it comes to government data requests in a bid to quash away any concerns that the company might be violating privacy of users by actually complying with overly broad data requests.