Facebook Reveals Government Requests Are Up Nearly 30%

Facebook releases their Global Government Requests report showing user account requests are on the rise.

Two years ago, Facebook’s relationship with the US government came under fire after the release of confidential documents provided by former NSA contractor turned whistleblower, Edward Snowden, leaked to the press. Snowden explained in a 2014 New Yorker interview that if users want to keep their privacy, then they should avoid using Facebook.

Edward Snowden
Stock Photo: WASHINGTON – OCTOBER 26: Signs held by protesters during a rally against mass surveillance in Washington, DC on October 26, 2013. (Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com)

Fast forward two years later, reports suggested certain toys now have the ability to spy on children. Not to mention the rise of hackers targeting tech companies, in 2016 mass surveillance is still a hot topic issue.

Facebook Global Government Requests Report

Then on Wednesday, Facebook released their 2016 Global Government Requests report. The report illustrated a near 30% percent increase in the number of government user data requests from the social network. In addition, Facebook made sure to note the importance of user privacy data. Especially, the decision to not provide the government “back door” access to Facebook users’ information.

Overall, Facebook points out the number of government requests for account information increased by 27% compared to last years’ Global Government Requests report. In fact, Facebook reports the number of government requests increased from 46,710 in the first half of 2015 in comparison to 59,229 requests in the first of half of 2016.

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook
Stock Photo: Jelenia Gora, Poland – February 25, 2016: New Facebook like button 6 Empathetic Emoji. Facebook is a well-known social networking service. Mark Zuckerberg’s page account on FACEBOOK (Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com)

The US law enforcement accounted for largest number of requests for account information. As a matter of fact, 56% of those requests contained a non-disclosure order prohibiting Facebook from notifying the user. Furthermore, Facebook’s report shows in the United States 80.65% of government records requests were granted.

The total number of items restricted from the social network, due to violating local laws, decreased by 83%. However, Facebook explains that there was a large number of content restrictions last year because of a single image originating from the Paris attacks.

Paris Attacks Facebook
Stock Photo: PARIS, FRANCE – NOV 13, 2015: Francois Hollande at French Television address to the Nation on the Terrorist Attacks. At least 40 people were killed across Paris, with explosions outside the stadium (Hadrian / Shutterstock.com)

Facebook and User Privacy

Facebook wants to make it clear they are putting their users’ privacy first. Zuckerberg’s company explained that the social network does not provide “back doors” or the government access to people’ information.

Chris Sonderby, Deputy General Counsel for Facebook explained the importance of privacy. “We’ll also keep working with partners in industry and civil society to push governments around the world to reform surveillance in a way that protects their citizens’ safety and security while respecting their rights and freedoms,” Sonderby said.