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Facebook’s Takedown Of Videos Through Law Enforcement Request Quadrupled In First Half Of 2017

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Facebook released a biannual Transparency Report on Monday, that, among other details, shows the company quadrupled its removal of certain content when compared to the second half of 2016.

Specifically, Facebook restricted content for apparently violating law 28,036 times in the first six months of 2017, compared to 6,944 from the prior half-year. In other words, Facebook’s takedowns of videos due to law enforcement requests quadrupled in just six months.

The massive purge surge primarily stems from one video of a January school shooting in Monterrey, Mexico. The U.S. tech company restricted the content 20,056 times due to the law enforcement in the country’s requests and concerns. The video reportedly showed a 15-year-old student shooting and injuring four others before turning the weapon on himself. Overall, Facebook restricted 20,527 pieces of content reported by Mexican authorities.

Other statistics from the Transparency Report include 21 percent increase in official requests for data, such as that of the users.

“Additionally, as a result of transparency reforms introduced in 2016 by the USA Freedom Act, the U.S. government notified us that it was lifting the non-disclosure order on five National Security Letters (NSLs) we previously received between 2012 and 2015,” Chris Sonderby, deputy general counsel of Facebook, wrote in a blog post. Sonderby embedded the five NSLs for public viewing. (RELATED: The Battle Over The Government’s Massive Surveillance Powers Has Arrived)

“We continue to carefully scrutinize each request we receive for account data — whether from an authority in the U.S., Europe, or elsewhere — to make sure it is legally sufficient,” he continued. “If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back, and will fight in court, if necessary.”

Tech companies release such information in an attempt to cultivate goodwill with both public officials and the larger public. Google, for example, regularly receives NSLs from the U.S. government seeking data from certain users, so it chose to publish the requests permitted by authorities December 2016.

In what is known as a gag order, law enforcement agencies often don’t allow companies and other organizations to divulge the petitioned information because they contend it could hamper their investigations.

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