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Facebook's latest government report reveals which countries censor its News Feed

Facebook's latest government report reveals which countries censor its News Feed

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Facebook today released its second global government transparency report, covering the period between July and December of last year. Apart from the regular numbers pertaining to government requests for user data, the social network is now — for the first time — revealing how often countries have restricted or had content removed from the site "on the grounds that it violates local law." India easily ranks as the worst offender here, with 4,765 content restrictions. Facebook says most of those related to laws "prohibiting criticism of a religion or the state." And India is no small market for Facebook. The country recently reached 100 million monthly active users..

Turkey is second; it had 2014 pieces of content restricted. Both of those numbers are far higher than the censorship seen in any other country. As evidence of that, Pakistan ranks third with "only" 162 requests to have content hidden from users. But there are some concerning figures elsewhere, too. France and Germany are each listed with over 80 content restrictions. "We only restrict access to content in the requesting country," Facebook said in a blog post accompanying the new report. "We do not remove content from our service entirely unless we determine that it violates our community standards."

India had over 4,000 pieces of content pulled — most for 'criticism of a religion or the state'

As for government requests, the United States remains unmatched in its thirst for user data. The US put in 12,598 requests, referencing some 18,715 user accounts. As in the past, Facebook complied with those inquiries more often than not — it handed over some data in 81.02 percent of cases. The company received between 0 and 999 National Security Letters for the period. In second place is India, which had 3,598 requests affecting 4,711 users. But Facebook apparently pushed back more often here; India was successful in obtaining user data only 53.56 percent of the time. "As we have long emphasized, we push back on requests that are overly broad, vague or do not comply with legal standards," Facebook said. When the company does comply, it most often shares only "basic information" like a user's name and IP address.

But the social network is clearly still very unhappy with US surveillance efforts. "Recent news accounts of alleged surveillance efforts by the United States government in other countries reinforce the importance of ensuring that all governments around the world seek access to user account information only through lawful process," Facebook said. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly voiced his displeasure with the NSA's tactics (and the government's poor handling of the issue) to President Obama. For now, Facebook insists it will continue to advocate for privacy measures "necessary to rebuild people’s trust in the Internet."