Facebook has now joined Google and Twitter to release it’s own Transparency report. They have released the number of requests made by Individual Governments of various countries to Facebook in the first half of 2013.
The report covers the total number of requests made, the number of user accounts requested and the percentage of requests where some kind of data was produced by Facebook.
India ranks second with total of 3245 requests for details on 4144 accounts from India. Facebook furnished either full or partial data for half of those requests. Here are the Top 5 countries that requested data from Facebook.
[Note: The data has been approximated for the purpose of visual depiction in the following graph. We have taken median of number of requests for US the same purposes]
United States has by far the biggest share of requests. The report stated that US Govt. made roughly 11000 to 12000 requests for nearly 20k to 21k accounts and 79 percent of those accounts were provided data by Facebook. UK, Germany and Italy were the other countries who made highest number of data requests.
In an ideal case, the number of requests made should be directly proportional to number of Facebook users in that country. For US and India, it looks to be right, but other countries like Indonesia, Brazil & Mexico who have high Facebook users do not figure in Top 5 or some even in top 10.
When Does Facebook Provide User Data
Even if the request is come from senior government authorities, Facebook needs to have a letter from court of law to furnish any of the user data. Colin Stretch, Facebook’s General counsel, clarifies that “We believe this process protects the data of the people who use our service, and requires governments to meet a very high legal bar with each individual request in order to receive any information about any of our users. We scrutinize each request for legal sufficiency under our terms and the strict letter of the law, and require a detailed description of the legal and factual bases for each request. We fight many of these requests, pushing back when we find legal deficiencies and narrowing the scope of overly broad or vague requests.”
So, from user perspective, they do not have to worry about their data being shared by Facebook unless there is a strong legal requirement to do so!