Facebook dropped an interesting bomb on the world recently. The social media company revealed that, in 2013, governments have asked for data on 38,000 users -- and more than half of those requests came from the United States. American authorities requested information on 20,000-21,000 individuals on 11,000-12,000 occasions over a six-month period. Facebook complied with the requests in 79 percent of the cases. No information on the nature of the requests or what they handed over to the government has been released.
And here you thought you were just innocuously posting photos of the leaf in your latte foam and your fresh-to-death manicure.
In a blog post, a spokesperson for Facebook said: "We have stringent processes in place to handle all government data requests. We believe this process protects the data of the people who use our service, and requires governments to meet a very high legal bar with each individual request in order to receive any information about any of our users." So, you can kind of feel safe every time you log on. But, not really. We don't know exactly what the government is asking about, remember? (However, note, it's probably not photos of your cat.)
While this information makes me slightly uncomfy, because it feels like spying (actually, it is spying), I've got nothing to hide. Go ahead, government, take a gander at my now-defunct Facebook page. You'll be bored to tears by my vacation pics and sparse updates, musing about the weather and my dog. And, I've gotta say, if I did have anything to hide, I really don't think I'd post anything associated with said secretive thing on Facebook or the Internet at all. Haven't we all seen the movies? You never want to leave a virtual trail. You leave the briefcase for the guy under the table at the diner, and then he comes and surreptitiously picks it up after you leave. It's Surreptitiousness 101. You don't communicate online.
Between the authorities asking for info on Facebook users and the NSA obtaining info on whoever the hell they want, it doesn't sound like the spying is going to stop any time soon here in the good ol' US of A. So the next time you have a hankering to upload a joke photo of you holding a joke gun jokingly saying you're going to shoot someone, just ... don't. The government doesn't think that's funny. And, for what it's worth, no one does.
Does this info make you uncomfortable?
Image via Michael Maher/Flickr