Pakistan, India tops the list of countries where Facebook has restricted content

ISLAMABAD: Facebook has released its the latest Transparency Report according to which India and Pakistan tops the list of countries where Facebook has restricted maximum number of items.

According to the report, for July-December 2018, Facebook restricted 171713 items in India followed by 4174 items in Pakistan.

Content restrictions doubles in Pakistan during July-December 2018

The content restriction is Pakistan  increased by a whopping 189% during July-December, 2018 with 4174 items restricted within Pakistan.  During the first six months from January to June, 2018, 2203 pieces of content were restricted.

During the July-December, 2018 reporting period, Facebook also shared the breakdown of restricted items according to platforms and the nature of the content for the first time. According to the statistics shared in the report, majority of the restricted items were Facebook posts that stood at 3811,  343 were Facebook groups and pages, 10 profiles were from Facebook and two from Instagram, seven items fell within Instagram media category and at least one restricted item was listed under Facebook “album” in the breakdown.

Explaining the process of content restrictions, Facebook notes in its report: “When we restrict content based on local law, we do so only in the country or region where it is alleged to be illegal.” For the reporting period, it further said: “We restricted access in Pakistan to items reported by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority as allegedly violating local laws prohibiting blasphemy, anti-judiciary content, defamation, and condemnation of the country’s independence.”

Government requests for data on the rise

The government requests for data was also on the rise during July-December 2018 reporting period. As compared to 1233 requests received by Facebook during January-June, 2018, the social media giant received 1752 data requests and sought data of 2360 users/accounts during the second half of the year.

Explaining the process of data requests, Facebook notes: “Facebook responds to government requests for data in accordance with applicable law and our terms of service. Each and every request we receive is carefully reviewed for legal sufficiency and we may reject or require greater specificity on requests that appear overly broad or vague.”

According to Facebook, it complied with 51% of the requests during July-December, 2018.

Account preservation requests

Facebook also received 488 requests from the government to preserve 709 user account information for July-December 2018 as opposed to 430 requests during Jan-June, 2018. Explaining what it means, the report states: “When we receive a preservation request, we will preserve a temporary snapshot of the relevant account information but will not disclose any of the preserved records unless and until we receive formal and valid legal process.”



Talal Raza is a Program Manager at Media Matters for Democracy. He has worked with renowned media organizations and NGOs including Geo News, The Nation, United States Institute of Peace and Privacy International.

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