Like a scorned ex-lover, the U.S. government might be very interested in your Facebook
activity these days. According to a new transparency report published by Facebook, Uncle Sam and his merry band of freedom fighters asked the world's largest social network to provide information on 18,715 user accounts between July and December of 2013.
This is by far the most requests of any country, with India coming in a distant second with 4,711 requests. Out of the 18,715 user accounts the U.S. government probed, it went on to request some specific user data for 12,598 of them, with Facebook granting just over 81 percent of those requests.
These requests aren't necessarily an extension of the U.S. government's spying efforts or PRISM program
. In a page explaining government requests, Facebook says they're most often made as part of a criminal investigation, like a kidnapping. In this case, 5,814 were the result of search warrants, while another 5,379 came way of a subpoena.
"Government officials sometimes make requests for data about people who use Facebook as part of official investigations. 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 and length of service," Facebook explains.
Facebook also admits that other requests have asked for IP address logs or actual account content. Before handing over any of the requested information, Facebook says it checks each and every one that it receives for legal sufficiency and points out that it's not afraid to "push back" when there are legal deficiencies or overly broad or vague demands.
You can download Facebook's transparency report here