Facebook user data requests rise by 24 per cent

Facebook privacy

Facebook user data requests from governments rose by 24 per cent to almost 35,000 in the first half of the year, compared to the final six months of 2013, BBC News reports.

Private messages, photographs and other personal information taken from profiles on the social media site are being requested by governments more than ever before, with the largest request involving data from 400 people fought against by Facebook earlier in the year.

The social media giant has assured worried users that it resists such requests as far as possible, saying "[we] push back hard when we find deficiencies or are served with overly broad requests."

Content from Facebook limited by local laws also rose by 19 per cent during the same six month period.

Facebook's treatment of its user data has been in the spotlight more than usual in 2014, with controversial experiments making headlines in June, forcing the social networking giant to make a public apology.

In August, a petition with more than 17,000 signatures emerged asking Facebook to compensate users for an evasion of privacy. According to the petition's author, the company's sins included support of the NSA's spying activities and passing on data to third-party companies.

Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke out against Facebook and Google's practices with user data in September, saying: "I think everyone has to ask, how do companies make their money? Follow the money. And if they're making money mainly by collecting gobs of personal data, I think you have a right to be worried.

"And you should really understand what's happening to that data, and the companies I think should be very transparent."

In a blog post earlier in the week, Facebook wrote: "We're aggressively pursuing an appeal to a higher court to invalidate these sweeping warrants and to force the government to return the data it has seized.

"While we recognise that governments need to take action to protect their citizens' safety and security, we believe all government data requests must be narrowly tailored, proportionate to the case in review, and subject to strict judicial oversight."

Caroline Preece

Caroline has been writing about technology for more than a decade, switching between consumer smart home news and reviews and in-depth B2B industry coverage. In addition to her work for IT Pro and Cloud Pro, she has contributed to a number of titles including Expert Reviews, TechRadar, The Week and many more. She is currently the smart home editor across Future Publishing's homes titles.

You can get in touch with Caroline via email at caroline.preece@futurenet.com.