In 2022, the parent company of social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp received a distressing number of data requests from government agencies across the world.
More than 450,000 government data requests regarding information on over 800,000 users were filed with Meta, according to its latest transparency report.
While Meta emphasizes that all data requests are handled according to applicable laws and their terms of service, the company’s report also highlights a concerning disclosure rate of 76% (globally).
All data requests in 2022 originated from 130 countries. The US holds the number one spot, with data requests filed on 236,000 users which led to Meta complying in 88% of cases. Germany came second with over 50,000 users/account information requests, followed by Israel.
A significant number of requests were also made from government agencies in France, the UK, Poland, Belgium, Brazil, Singapore and Taiwan.
Meta said that the government data requests they received are related to criminal cases, which may lead to the disclosure of basic subscriber information, account content or non-content data for various products and services the company provides, including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Oculus and Whatsapp.
“Government officials sometimes make requests for data about people who use Facebook as part of official investigations,” Meta explained. “The vast majority of these requests relate to criminal cases, such as robberies or kidnappings. In many of these cases, these government requests seek basic subscriber information, such as name, registration date and length of service. Other requests may also seek IP address logs or account content.”
Non-content data that Meta may disclose after a careful inspection of the request may include credit card information, email addresses, and recent login/logout IP addresses or other transactional information.
Depending on the request, Meta also said that it may share messages, photos, videos, timeline posts, and location information.
Meta’s high compliance rate may raise some alarm bells regarding user privacy and the security of their data, as well as the number of malicious individuals with an active social media life.
To protect your privacy, always think twice before you post and limit the information you share whenever you go online.
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