Facebook revealed some startling numbers for those who are in favor of Internet freedom, and privacy on the Internet. At least when the prying eyes are the government or government agencies. The company revealed that requests for user data of Facebook users increased by 25% and global requests to restrict content rose by 20%.
There were almost 35,000 data requests made on behalf of government agencies around the world and nearly half of them – 15,433 came from the United States government. The Indian government finished in a distant second with just under 5,000 data requests for Facebook user information.
The data released by Facebook also shows that approximately 80% of requests were entertained and worked through by the company, leaving just 20% of the requests denied. Globally speaking, government censorship also increased by 19%. However, the data also revealed that most of those requests came from Turkey, Pakistan, and India – where criticism of governments and royal families were highly-fought.
Prism was, and is, the secret program that was agreed on between the NSA and Facebook in an effort to gather user-data as it pertained to the safety and security of the national government. However, this secret program isn’t secret anymore, and Facebook is regularly releasing data on how many requests are made. The point being that, whether users are aware or not, the number of requests of data, and censorship requests are spiking dramatically as time goes on.
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Facebook is put in a unique position with an issue like this because the company has to carefully balance between government regulators which have a dramatic amount of authority over the operation of one as large as Facebook, but also have to position themselves correctly to attract advertisers, as well as user information – which without the company would not be able to exist as it does today.
Users privacy is something that has been at the forefront of the conversation when it comes to Facebook, and something that continues to gain traction as the company releases data showing that the government is doing more regulating on that front – than originally expected.
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There is legal precedent to be had here, as a New York court ordered Facebook to hand over the user data of nearly 400 people involved in a disability scam, which is currently being appealed. That only reiterates the difficulty and the complexity of the issues facing privacy on Facebook.