While the whole world is going gaga over PRISM and the US government’s spying on foreign citizens, Facebook has decided to keep with its policy of being transparent, and released data to prove it.

The report shows how many requests Facebook received from governments around the world, how many users’ information was requested, and how much data Facebook ended up sharing. The company points out, in the report, that it only divulges information when it is required by law to do so – so your pics of a government minister swilling vodka are perfectly legal, and not in danger of being taken down.

In the first six months of this year, which these statistics cover, the South African government put in 14 requests for the information of nine users. Happily, none of those requests were honoured. Sadly, Facebook doesn’t divulge what the requests were for, but if there wasn’t legal standing then we imagine they were frivolous. However, Facebook defines a government request as any situation in which a government requires basic user information, and it’s usually used for official investigations.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s no prize for guessing which government put in the most requests for user data. Yup, it’s the US, where between 11 000 and 12 000 requests were put in, for between 20 000 and 21 000 users. These figures eclipse  the country in second place, India, which has a population of more than a billion but only requested 3 345 times for 4 144 users. In fact, the total number of US requests adds up to more than all the other government requests Facebook received.


Eleven years ago Christo started writing about technology for one of South Africa's (then) leading computer magazines. His first review? A Samsung LCD monitor. Hey, it was hot news, back then. Nowadays he gets more excited about photography, cars, game consoles, and faster internet connections. He's sort of an Apple fan, but will take any opportunity to remind you about his Windows-powered home theatre PC and desire to own a vanilla Android tablet.   Currently uses: Apple 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display, Apple iPhone 5, Microsoft Laser Mouse 6000, Audiofly AF78 Earphones, Xbox 360, Nikon D50.