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Meta transparency report shows user requests from Indian government continued to climb

The report revealed that information requests from the Indian government went up by 12% since the year began.

Meta, formerly Facebook, complied with 51% of the 45,275 information requests it received from the Indian government during the first half of 2021, according to its latest transparency report released on November 10. The tech giant also experienced 28 internet disruptions in India during the period. The disruptions, likely due to government-enforced internet shutdowns, led to a total outage of 3 months and 1 day and were primarily in Jammu and Kashmir.

The biannual transparency report, which enumerates Facebook’s responses to government requests for user data, content violating local law, global internet disruptions, etc., added a new category that lists specific cases in which Facebook yielded to government information requests.

After the United States, India sent the second-highest number of information requests, a trend observed in older reports as well. India has sent high numbers of information requests in other cases too, like Twitter which revealed in July that India sent it the highest number of information requests and Google whose data revealed India sent among the highest number of information requests.

India sees increase in number of government information requests

The report noted that information related to 68,485 accounts/users were requested. In absolute terms, the latest disclosure indicates a 12% increase in Indian government’s requests from those reported in the second half of 2020 (40,300), and a one percent drop in Facebook’s compliance with them (then 52%).

Meta processes two types of government requests – legal requests, biding local laws and in some cases the MLAT (Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty), and emergency requests. The latter, Meta said, includes submissions by law enforcement agencies without following the legal process and includes voluntarily disclosing information in “a matter that has imminent risk of injury or death”.

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Out of the over 45 thousand requests sent across its products (WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, etc.), 42,458 were through legal channels while the rest were emergency disclosures. In its disclosure on certain case studies of government requests, Facebook revealed a case where it received and complied with an Indian emergency request for information about an inter-state kidnapping and extortion group that was later nabbed.

Where was internet disrupted?

The Facebook report mentioned that there were internet disruptions in:

  • Anantnag, Pulwama, Awantipora, and Shopian districts of J&K multiple times.
  • Parts of Delhi-NCR on January 26-27.
  • Kaithal, Panipat, Jind, Rohtak, Charkhi Dadri, Sonipat, and Jhajjar regions of Haryana between January 29 and February 4.
  • Chhabra city in Rajasthan between April 11 and April 19.
  • Bhainsa in Andhra Pradesh between March 8 and March 19.

The number of internet disruptions in India for the first half of 2021 is lower than disruptions Facebook had recorded in its reports for 2020 – 42 and 49 internet disruptions in the first and second half, respectively. Six internet shutdowns in Myanmar, causing nine months of disruption, and two internet shutdowns in Ethiopia, leading to six months of disruption, were also recorded in the report.

Overall content moderation trends

Meta provided global community standards enforcement statistics for its Facebook and Instagram platforms which can be viewed in-depth here. However, at a glance, the statistics show:

1. Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity

On Facebook

  • 34.7 million pieces related to the category were actioned against by Facebook.
  • 98.8% of this was flagged proactively by Facebook.
  • 0.26 million pieces were restored afterward, with or without an appeal.

On Instagram

  • 10.9 million pieces were actioned
  • 95.4% were flagged proactively
  • 0.15 million were later restored, without appeal.

2. Bullying and Harassment:

On Facebook

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  • 9.2 million pieces were actioned
  • 59.4% were proactively flagged
  • 0.43 million were later restored, with or without an appeal.

On Instagram

  • 7.8 million pieces were actioned against.
  • 83.2% were flagged proactively
  • 91,500 were later restored without appeal

3. Child Endangerment: Nudity and Physical Abuse and Sexual Exploitation

On Facebook

  • 20.9 million pieces related to child nudity and physical abuse were actioned;
    1.8 million pieces related to child sexual exploitation were actioned.
  • 97.1% were flagged proactively.
  • 0.16 million pieces were later restored with or without appeal.

On Instagram

  • 1.6 million pieces related to child nudity and physical abuse were actioned;
    0.52 million pieces related to child sexual exploitation were actioned.
  • 92.3% pieces were flagged proactively.
  • 0.16 million pieces were later restored without appeal.

4. Dangerous Organizations: Terrorism and Organised Hate

On Facebook

  • 9.8 million pieces related to terrorism were actioned;
    2 million pieces related to organised hate were actioned.
  • 99.7% pieces were flagged proactively.
  • 77,500 pieces were later restored with or without appeal.

On Instagram

  • 0.39 million pieces related to terrorism were actioned;
    0.3 million pieces related to organised hate were actioned.
  • 99.9% pieces were flagged proactively.
  • 2,000 pieces were later restored without appeal.

Related: Inflammatory content targeted Muslims on Facebook and WhatsApp ahead of Delhi Riots

5.  Fake Accounts

On Facebook

  • 1.8 billion accounts were actioned. Facebook estimated that 5% of its Monthly Active Users worldwide were fake accounts.
  • 99.8% were flagged proactively.

No information on restored accounts as well as related information about Fake accounts on Instagram was provided.

6. Hate speech

On Facebook

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  • 22.3 million pieces related to Hate speech were actioned;
  • 96.5% pieces were flagged proactively.
  • 0.39 million pieces were later restored with or without appeal.

On Instagram

  • 6 million pieces related to hate speech were actioned;
  • 93.8% pieces were flagged proactively.
  • 43,100 pieces were later restored without appeal.

Related: How Facebook deals with hate speech is being misrepresented, whistleblower reveals

7. Controlled goods: Drugs and firearms

On Facebook

  • 2.7 million pieces related to drugs were actioned;
    1.1 million pieces related to firearms were actioned.
  • 96.7% pieces were flagged proactively.
  • 92,900 pieces were later restored with or without appeal.

On Instagram

  • 1.8 million pieces related to drugs were actioned;
    0.15 million pieces related to firearms were actioned.
  • 97.4% pieces were flagged proactively.
  • 35,600 pieces were later restored without appeal.

8. Spam

On Facebook

  • 777 million spam content were actioned;
  • 99.6% pieces were flagged proactively.
  • 20.9 million pieces were later restored with or without appeal.

Corresponding information for Instagram was not provided.

9. Suicide and self-injury

On Facebook

  • 8.5 million pieces related to suicide and self-injury were actioned;
  • 99% pieces were flagged proactively.
  • 0.16 milion pieces were later restored with or without appeal.

On Instagram

  • 3.5 million pieces related to suicide and self-injury were actioned;
  • 96.8% pieces were flagged proactively.
  • 10,500 pieces were later restored without appeal.

Related: US senators grill Facebook in hearing on teens and mental health

10. Violent and graphic content

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On Facebook

  • 26.6 million pieces related to violence and graphic content were actioned;
  • 99.4 pieces were flagged proactively.
  • 8,600 pieces were later restored with or without appeal.

On Instagram

  • 10.7 million pieces related to violence and graphic content were actioned;
  • 99.3% pieces were flagged proactively.
  • 21,200 pieces were later restored without appeal.

11. Violence and Incitement

On Facebook

  • 13.6 million pieces related to violence and incitement were actioned;
  • 96.7% pieces were flagged proactively.
  • 0.24 milion pieces were later restored with or without appeal.

On Instagram

  • 3.3 million pieces related to violence and incitement were actioned;
  • 96.4% pieces were flagged proactively.
  • 21,400 pieces were later restored without appeal.

Globally, Meta restricted access to 3 pieces of content following a Brazilian courts order- restrictions usually take place for a particular country or jurisdiction.

On intellectual property issues (i.e complaints related to copyright infringement, trademarks, and counterfeit goods), Facebook said it removed 84%, 69%, and 76.15% of such reported content, respectively. Meanwhile, Instagram took down 92% of posts related to counterfeit, 88.4% related to copyright, and 66.3% related to trademarks.

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Written By

I cover health technology for MediaNama, among other things. Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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