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India’s Requests for Information About Facebook Users Rises Again

India’s government is making an increasing number of requests for data on Facebook’s users, but the social networking site is blocking less content as a result of fewer requests from authorities in the South Asian nation.

According to the social media giant’s most recent report on government requests from January to June 2016, Indian authorities made 6,324 requests for user data from Facebook, 23% more than the 5,115 requests it made a year earlier.

The U.S. sends far more requests for data on Facebook’s users than India. Facebook said it received 23,854 requests from the U.S. for data in the first half of 2016. But the country made zero requests for the blocking of content on Facebook.

India came second after France for the highest number of requests for “content restrictions.”

Facebook blocked 2,034 pieces of content in India in the first half of 2016 after government requests. That is far fewer than the 15,155 pieces of content the site blocked in India from January to June a year earlier.

“The majority of content restricted was alleged to violate local laws against anti-religious speech and hate speech,” said the company in its report.

In June, India’s law-enforcement agencies asked Facebook to block a photograph that depicted a sketch of Prophet Mohammed, the company said on its website.

“We determined that the photo did not violate our Community Standards. We reviewed the content and made the photo unavailable in India, where any depiction of the Prophet Mohammed is prohibited,” it said. The company said it later notified the user who created it about its decision.

Facebook has nearly 153 million Indian users according to U.K. consultancy We Are Social and the country is a huge source for potential growth, especially since the company is shut out of China.

India has a population of 1.2 billion people, many of whom are yet to connect to the Internet. Founder Mark Zuckerberg has traveled to India twice since 2014, meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attempting to launch a free–and controversial–internet initiative called Free Basics.

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(via WSJ)