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India Leads the World in Facebook Censorship

Nashik, India, on Feb. 3
Nashik, India, on Feb. 3Photograph by Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

Facebook published its second transparency report on Friday morning, and this one includes more than just instances of governments seeking information about social network users. Now Facebook also reveals times when governments restrict access to content because it violates local laws. As an example, Facebook cites German laws against Holocaust denial. Sure enough, German authorities asked Facebook to restrict such content 84 times in the last six months of 2013.

But by far the most censorious government was India, where Facebook said authorities restricted content 4,765 times. India’s approach to Internet speech has been a flash point for years, with the government saying it wants to regulate content that is offensive to religious or ethnic groups, and companies such as Facebook and Google bristling at the restrictions. Turkey also ranks high on the list, which is unsurprising given its recent attempts to restrict Twitter use.
 
Here’s who is asking for content to be removed, and how often they’re doing it: