Facebook Transparency Report
In its latest transparency report analyzing the second half of 2015, Facebook concluded that there was a considerable increase in the number of reports for Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram user data. The report also includes details of news feeds & posts censored in various countries where Facebook operates.
The report identified a 13% increase in data requests for user profile data by governments, particularly pointing out the US Law Enforcement Agencies and Canadian Government. While data requests experienced a rapid increase, censored posts on Facebook almost doubled from 20,538 to 55,827.
This massive change in censored posts, the report noted was due to a specific image of the Paris Attacks involving a photo of victims of the Bataclan Club. Another request was made by the Indian government to censor & remove the photo of a boy “peeing” on the Indian national flag.
19,235 requests were made by US Law Enforcement agencies in the second half of 2015, 81.41% of which were entertained by the social giant. The worrying fact in this case was that an estimated 60% of data requests came with a “Gag Order”. This meant that Facebook had to hand over data without informing the users’ that their data was being submitted to government law enforcement agencies.
In a personal statement for Facebook users, the social giant assured that:
“As we have emphasized many times, Facebook does not provide any government with “back doors” or direct access to people’s data. We scrutinize each request for user data we receive for legal sufficiency, no matter which country is making the request. If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back hard and will fight in court, if necessary.”
You can access the full Facebook Transparency Report here.
Help is at Hand
User disbelief and self-censorship are at an all-time high amongst Facebook users due to the authoritarian behavior of law enforcement and government agencies, but thanks to the US House of Representatives help is at hand.
On 27th April 2016, in one of the greatest victories for online privacy the Email Privacy Act was unanimously passed by the US House of Representatives. The EPA solidifies the requirement for warrants to demand user data from tech companies like Apple Inc. and social giants like Facebook.
You can read the Email Privacy Act here.