US authorities made the most requests for users’ information, while India and Turkey had the most takedowns for content that violated local laws
Facebook has said government requests for data and demands for content to be taken down surged in the first half of 2015, which the social network has seen continually increase since it began publicly releasing such data two years ago.
Government requests for account data globally jumped 18% in the first half of 2015 to 41,214 accounts, up from 35,051 requests in the second half of 2014, Facebook said in a blogpost.
The amount of content restricted for violating local law more than doubled compared with the same period in the second half of 2014 to 20,568 pieces of content, it said.
Most government requests related to criminal cases, such as robberies or kidnappings, Facebook said. The government often requested basic subscriber information, IP addresses or account content, including people’s posts online.
The bulk of government requests came from US law enforcement agencies. US agencies requested data from 26,579 accounts – comprising more than 60% of requests globally – up from 21,731 accounts in the second half of 2014.
France, Germany and Britain also made up a large percentage of the requests and had far more content restricted in 2015. Some of the content taken down in Germany, for example, may relate to Holocaust denial, Facebook said.
India and Turkey were responsible for most of the content taken down for violating local laws. India had 15,155 pieces of content restricted – nearly triple the amount in the second half of 2014 – while Turkey had 4,496 items, up from 3,624.
The technology industry has pushed for greater transparency on government data requests, seeking to shake off concerns about their involvement in vast, surreptitious surveillance programs revealed by the former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.
“Facebook does not provide any government with ‘back doors’ or direct access to people’s data,” Facebook wrote.
Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google began in 2014 publishing details about the number of government requests for data they receive.