Facebook recently reported that it has crossed 100 million users in the country. The growth is good for the social networking giant and marketers but turning into a nightmare for the Indian government especially with the ongoing 16th Lok Sabha elections. Facebook which recently revealed its transparency report for second half of 2013 states that India leads in asking Facebook to censor content. In seeking information on user accounts, India is in the second place after the US.
For the period of July-December 2013, Facebook censored 4,765 pieces of content in India at the request of government authorities since they were reported under the local laws prohibiting criticism of a religion or the state. In the same duration, India also made 3,598 requests, seeking information on 4,711 accounts. Facebook complied with around 53% requests where some data was produced. There is no further information on the nature of the requests that were addressed by Facebook in India.
Last year during the first half of 2013 India had ranked second in making requests right after US. India made 3,245 total requests along with 4144 users or accounts requests to Facebook in the January-June period of 2013. However, only 50 percent of Indian requests were addressed by Facebook.
The Transparency report also highlights that US sought information on 18,715 Facebook accounts. But it did not ask the social networking website to censor any content. In fact, after the US and India, United Kingdom and Italy are the only two countries that have made requests to seek information on more than 2,000 Facebook accounts.
Developed countries made fewer requests in the second half of 2013. Brazil sought information on 1,651 accounts, Pakistan sought information on 163 accounts and Sri Lanka made only three requests, seeking details of three Facebook accounts.
After banning Twitter and YouTube, Turkey has been actively monitoring Facebook. It asked the social networking website to remove 2014 pieces of content in the second half of 2013.
Talking about how Facebook has been working on the reports Colin Stretch, Facebook counsel said that the latest report not only includes information about government requests for account information, but also about government requests to restrict or remove content from the service on the grounds that it violates local law.
Stretch said that even when Facebook complies with the government requests, it tries to share only the basic information. “When we are required to provide information, in most instances we share basic information only – such as name and IP address.”