FG requests Facebook user data of Nigerians

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In keeping with other major social networks, Facebook is fielding more requests for private user data than ever - among them secret orders enabling USA authorities to demand information without a warrant.

The number of requests to Facebook for information on users from the Irish Government rose in the first six months of 2017, new figures show.

While all requests are reviewed by Facebook, the figures also revealed that most were approved, with the United Kingdom (90 per cent), the U.S. (85 per cent) and France (74 per cent) all notable for their high level of request approval. In the second half of 2016, by contrast, the company only restricted content about 7,000 times - meaning takedown requests quadrupled in the category.

The request for data demanding confidentiality shows that the USA government has been strengthening its efforts for national security.

Worldwide requests for Facebook user data now significantly outnumber those received by Google, which recorded 48,941 requests concerning 83,345 accounts in first half of 2017. Facebook received between 0 to 499 NSLs in the first half of 2017 concerning 500 to 999 users.

The Menlo Park tech firm released the data as part of a transparency report it publishes twice every year. Of the data requests submitted by United States law enforcement, 57 per cent also contained non-discloser orders, meaning that Facebook was prohibited from notifying the user. Compared to this time previous year, the number of requests from the U.S. has grown from 23,854 to 32,716, while those from the UK, Germany and France rose by 1,376, 1,516 and 937, respectively. According to Facebook, the company restricted video of a school shooting in Mexico 20,506 times after receiving a request from Mexican law enforcement.

In a foreword to the report, the company stated: "If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back, and will fight in court, if necessary".

A "small fraction" of requests were excluded because they were not sent through an official form, Facebook said.

Facebook removed 1,818,794 posts due to copyright infringement from the site in that period, and 685,996 posts from Instagram because of copyright infringement. On Instagram, it made a move against 108,094 posts following 10,231 fake cases.