Facebook has revealed that it received between 9000 and 10,000 requests for user data from US authorities in the second half of last year, as it seeks to shield itself from a growing scandal.

The requests covered issues from child disappearances to petty crimes and terrorist threats and targeted between 18,000 and 19,000 accounts, the social networking site said on Friday, without revealing how often it complied with the requests.

Facebook general counsel Ted Ullyot said it ”aggressively” protected its users’ data.

”We frequently reject such requests outright, or require the government to substantially scale down its requests, or simply give the government much less data than it has requested. And we respond only as required by law,” he said.

Facebook is fighting an expanding public backlash after a government contractor revealed it was among nine internet giants that turned over user data to the secret National Security Agency surveillance program PRISM.

The companies, which also include Apple, Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft, have denied claims the NSA could directly access their servers. US authorities have said the program helped prevent terrorist attacks.

Facebook said it was able to report all US national security-related requests, which no company had previously been allowed to do, after pressing the government to release more details about PRISM.

But, for now, it said the government would not allow Facebook to reveal exact numbers.

”This is progress, but we’re continuing to push for even more transparency, so that our users around the world can understand how infrequently we are asked to provide user data on national security grounds,” Mr Ullyot said.

Google asked the FBI and Justice Department last week for permission to release numbers related to its handing of data for PRISM.


The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.