While the Government has steadily decreased its requests for content to be taken off Facebook, there has been a surge in its requests for “information” and “user accounts”. Since 2015, there has been an estimated 63% increase in Facebook accounts in India and an almost three-fold spike in the number of government requests for information and user accounts, said a Facebook report released Friday. While Facebook doesn’t specify the kind of “information” requested for by the Government, sources said this usually relates to data used for law-enforcement.
The Facebook report covers the period from 2013 to July 2018 and reveals that the Government steadily increased its information requests — by almost 68 per cent between January and June this year compared to the same period the previous year.
The request for information has consistently increased from just eight in the first six months of 2013 to 16,580 in the first half of 2018. Likewise, the request for access to user accounts jumped from 4,144 in the first half of 2013 to 23,047 in the first half of 2018. Globally, India stands at the second spot, behind the United States, for most information requests and account information requests sought by any country, according to the report.
Most of the content takedown requests by the Government were related to religion, hate speech, or anti-state defamation, the report said.
Content takedowns from India peaked in 2015 with 30,000 requests but has since declined significantly to less than 3,500.
In 2013, India topped the list with the most content takedown requests and is now at Number 7, the lowest position the country has had thus far.
While the US government had far more information requests than the Indian government, the growth in Indian requests for information from Facebook has been more than that of the US this year.
The report says that Facebook has complied with these requests from the Indian government around half of the time.
When the company first started reporting these figures in 2013, India remained in the top 20, globally, in terms of Facebook’s compliance.
However, India’s ranking on Facebook’s compliance — the degree to which Facebook abides by the Government’s requests — has dipped, on an an average, six positions a year since 2013.
Based on Facebook’s compliance with government information requests, India now ranks at 70th place. Significantly, the number of included countries in the report has also grown from 71 countries (in 2013) to 127 (in 2018) .
Of the mostly African and Asian countries where Facebook detected Internet disruptions, India had by far the most shutdowns that Facebook detected.
From April to June of this year, the company took down 3 million pieces of content globally because of “hate speech,” the same amount that they took down in the first three months of the year. Since April, half of the content was taken down without user reporting.
The report shows a huge spike in takedowns of terrorist-related content to 9 million from April to June, as opposed to 2 million in the first three months.