Facebook: Govt. Data Requests Surge 16 Percent

facebook transparency report

Amid the controversies over data collection, data privacy, and consumer control over how their information is used, Facebook on Wednesday (Nov. 13) released stats via its Facebook Transparency Report that showed an increase in government demands for data tied to the social media firm’s users.

In terms of headline stats, there was an overall 16 percent increase in demand through the first half of 2019 compared to the second half of last year, and that tally in the most recent period came to more than 128,600 data requests.

As noted by TechCrunch, the latest reading is the highest number of government demands that has been logged by Facebook since it began issuing transparency reports about six years ago.

Drilling down into the numbers a bit, the U.S. government requests came in at 50,741 — and the requests resulted in data being handed over from Facebook to those government entities about 88 percent of the time. Roughly two-thirds of the requests came with gag orders, which in turn kept Facebook from alerting individual users about the requests.

The firm also said between April and June of this year, it took action against about 27.7 million pieces of content across its properties, compared to 24.6 million pieces through the first half of 2019, and down from the 34.9 million pieces of content in the second half of last year.

Roughly 90 percent of the data requests were defined as being part of a legal process, Facebook said, such as search warrants. The remaining 9.5 percent stemmed from emergency requests, defined by the company as being tied to “good faith reason to believe the matter involves immediate risk of serious physical injury or death.”

The latest range of government data requests in the second half of this year outpaces the data requests (and percentage where some data was produced) at a respective 41,336 and 88 percent.

The government requests for data spanned 82,461 accounts, according to the Facebook Transparency Report.

Requests from the government in search warrants came across more than 46,000 accounts. Subpoenas accounted for 17,816 user account data requests.

The company also disclosed data relevant to government requests to preserve account information pending the receipt of formal legal process. In this instance, Facebook will preserve a temporary snapshot of the account but will not disclose the preserved records until the firm receives formal and valid legal process. In the latest data, from January to June of this year, such preservation requests covered the accounts of more than 111,900 users, across more than 65,800 requests.


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