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Meta's H1 2021 Transparency Report Shows How It Deals With Government Requests For Users Data

Meta has recently published a new Transparency Report, documenting the first half of 2021 to shed light on important discourse related to user privacy and government requests.

Transparency reports have sort of become the norm across tech companies, which is a step for the better. In fact, Apple posted theirs for the latter half of 2020 no more than a few days ago. With so much of our daily lives being documented online, especially on social media and tech platforms, some form of accountability system should be set up between the big tech that possess such information and their users. No one lives in a vacuum, and social media platforms are pestered regularly by governments across the world for user data. Is this an infringement on privacy, and should these platforms absolutely refuse to give such information up? If your answer isn't yes on both accounts, perhaps the internet, or privacy rules in general, aren't for you.

The new transparency report was published on Facebook's Newsroom blog, and starts off with government requests. For the first half of 2021, 211,055 requests were issued for user data, which is an alarming 10.5% increase from the end of 2020, which saw a total of 191,013 requests. The country that the most number of requests were attributed to is the USA, with a total of 63,675 requests; more than 4% of all requests in tow. Countries that followed suit were India, Germany, France, Brazil, and the UK. While Meta did not detail how many of these requests were accepted, it certainly implied that most of them were. The company revealed that NDAs preventing Meta from informing the involved users rose from 69% to 70%, which isn't a lot, but the end result is a rather large number.


From there on, Meta detailed content restrictions across countries. Restrictions differ from other content flagging because they do not violate Meta's Community Guidelines. Instead, these are imposed due to a violation of local law, which may prompt government action to follow if said content is left up. The company revealed that restrictions increased by a total of 11% across the end half of 2020 and the first half of 2021. A total of 47,365 restrictions were imposed on law violating content, which of course can be conflated with a violation of free speech, but that entirely depends on the type of content being shut down. Mexico, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Taiwan, and Pakistan were responsible for the most content restrictions, in that order.

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