Facebook: Governments demanded data on 38K users

WASHINGTON - Government agents in 74 countries demanded information on about 38,000 Facebook users in the first half of this year, with about half the orders coming from authorities in the United States, the company said Tuesday.

The social-networking giant is the latest technology company to release figures on how often governments seek information about its customers . Microsoft and Google have done the same.

As with the other companies, it's hard to discern much from Facebook's data, besides the fact that, as users around the globe flocked to the world's largest social network, police and intelligence agencies followed.

Facebook and Twitter have become organizing platforms for activists and, as such, have become targets for governments. During anti-government protests in Turkey in May and June, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called social media "the worst menace to society."

At the time, Facebook denied it provided information about protest organizers to the Turkish government.

Data released Tuesday show authorities in Turkey submitted 96 requests covering 173 users. Facebook said it provided some information in about 45 of those cases, but there's no information on what was turned over and why.

"We fight many of these requests, pushing back when we find legal deficiencies and narrowing the scope of overly broad or vague requests," Colin Stretch, Facebook's general counsel company said in a blog post. "When we are required to comply with a particular request, we frequently share only basic user information, such as name."

Facebook and other technology companies have been criticized for helping the National Security Agency secretly collect data on customers. Federal law gives government the authority to demand data without specific warrants, and while companies can fight requests in secret court hearings, it's an uphill battle.

Facebook turned over some data in response to about 60 percent of those requests.

It's not clear from the Facebook data how many of the roughly 26,000 government requests on 38,000 users were for law-enforcement purposes and how many were for intelligence gathering.

Technology and government officials have said criminal investigations are far more common than national security matters as a justification for demanding information from companies.

The numbers are imprecise because the federal government forbids companies from revealing how many times they've been ordered to turn over information about their customers. Facebook released only a range of figures for the United States.

The company said it planned to start releasing these figures regularly.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments

More Facebook Stories

Fake customer service rep trolls people complaining about Target Fake customer service rep trolls people complaining about Target's new gender neutral policy

People upset with Target's gender neutral policy vented on the company's Facebook page. One man saw an opportunity to have some fun.

Steven Maasz: Lawyer sues Facebook after being banned Steven Maasz: Lawyer sues Facebook after being banned

Steven Maasz's comment on a post led the social media giant to ban him for seven days.

What your Facebook posts say about how crazy you are What your Facebook posts say about how crazy you are

Researchers at Brunel University in London say they can predict personality traits based on the topics people post about on Facebook.

Woman gives birth on toilet, didn Woman gives birth on toilet, didn't know she was pregnant

A Wisconsin woman was not feeling well when she went to the bathroom and realized the source of her pain.

Target Target's Lilly Pulitzer collection launch crashes website, store inventory emptied in minutes

Target thrilled fans of designer Lilly Pulitzer when they announced a collaboration back in January. But when the demand outweighed the supply, many customers were left disappointed and accused people of scooping up the merchandise to resell it on internet marketplaces like eBay.

PD: Selfies from stolen iPhone show up on Facebook PD: Selfies from stolen iPhone show up on Facebook

A woman who had her phone stolen from her purse said selfies from the phone started showing up on her Facebook page.

Now someone can manage your Facebook account after you die Now someone can manage your Facebook account after you die

Facebook is giving more options to decide what happens to users' accounts after they die.

Instagram Tops Twitter Instagram Tops Twitter

First, Facebook was the "it" girl of social media. Then, Twitter came into the spotlight and now Instagram has officially topped Twitter in popularity. The List's Ariel Wesler talks to social media expert, Chris Kline (ABC15) about the major shift and what to expect in 2015. See the full story now, on The List!

Facebook Fans hug their pets for National Hug Day Facebook Fans hug their pets for National Hug Day

We asked Facebook fans to submit pictures of themselves hugging their pets for National Hug Day. Here are the photos!

Facebook Fans share their favorite cheese types and brands Facebook Fans share their favorite cheese types and brands

Today is National Cheese Lovers Day! We asked our Facebook fans to share what their favorite cheeses are and here are the results.