In the post-Snowden era, governments requesting user data from social media websites is, to some measure, expected. What seems curious though is that the number of such requests for just Facebook has increased by nearly a quarter in the first six months of this year over the preceding six months. Even Google had reported a 15% spike in such requests in the first half of this year and an overall 150% increase in the last 5 years.
This presents a quandary for the internet giants—while the pressure from the governments, usually for reasons such as assisting criminal investigations and monitoring for security reasons, for sweeping access to data bases is mounting, the users are getting increasingly vocal about their privacy concerns. Facebook has said that it would push back against the “sweeping warrants” from the government by scrutinising each request for data for legal sufficiency. But such a move, while fending off some of the pressure, might not work in the long run given governments can always tweak policies to remove loopholes. Technological solutions like custom privacy settings and data filters seem ideal given how they rest the discretion over sharing information with the user—Facebook, for example, allows its users on the mobile platform to choose the information they share with third-party apps.