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Facebook’s transparency is limited to its report. What about everything else?

The Facebook page of the controversial ‘Kiss of Love‘ protest was blocked along with the profile pages of all 15 administrators and a related Facebook group Free Thinkers’ earlier this week, reports The Hindu. One of the administrators told the publication that some of the profiles were reinstated after an identification process while others failed it. The Facebook page also seems to have been reinstated yesterday evening.

facebook-chappal

What’s striking here is Facebook hasn’t provided any information as to why this Facebook page was initially blocked and later reinstated. It’s possible that Facebook reinstated this page following public outcry which raises another question as to what about the Facebook pages that were blocked where there was no public outcry.

Earlier in the day, Facebook informed in its transparency report that it restricted access to 4,960 pieces of content in India during the first six months of 2014 (January- June 2014), the highest among all the countries in the world, and a significant increase from 4,765 pieces of content during July-Dec 2013.

What’s noteworthy here is the significant difference in the number of restricted content pieces in India and other countries. Turkey is distant second with 1,893 pieces of content restricted followed by Pakistan with 1,773 restricted content pieces.

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Facebook informs that most of these restrictions were due to local laws “prohibiting the criticism of a religion or the state”, reported by law enforcement officials and the India Computer Emergency Response Team.

The social networking giant however hash’t disclosed any information on which government agencies sent these requests, how many of these requests were backed by court orders and the reason for these requests. There is also no clarity on the number of Facebook pages which were blocked as per government requests.

We feel that Facebook should work on increasing the transparency on these issues, especially in the market where the company 100 million active users, the largest base outside the United States. People need to know what was blocked, why it has been blocked, who has taken the decision to block it, and if it is my page, what is the process of getting the block removed.

India ranks 2nd in account information requests

India ranks second in the world, in terms of the total Facebook accounts for which governments have requested information during this period.

It sent a total 4,559 requests seeking information on 5,958 accounts to Facebook in the first half of 2014, a significant increase from 3,598 requests seeking information on 4,711 accounts during the second half of 2013. Facebook complied with as many as 50.87% of these requests, providing “some” information to the government.

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Globally, Facebook received 34,946 requests seeking information on 49,479 accounts across 83 countries. United States continues to be at the top with 15,433 requests on 23,667 accounts and 80.15% compliance.

Also read: Content removal on Facebook – a case of privatised censorship: CIS India 

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