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August 27, 2013

Visualizing the countries that request the most information from Facebook


Today, Facebook released a report of the requests for data by governments around the world.  The report is a simple table, but I think a visualization tells the story much better.  Basically, the United States makes way, way more requests than any other country.  In fact 53% of the total requests came from the United States.  I guess we shouldn’t be surprised given the PRISM surveillance program.

Download the data here and this workbook here.


  1. Worth noting the number of users in each country about which to query.

  2. I think a more important to note facebooks popularity/use in various countries. For example, China is notorious for monitoring everything and has banned facebook. The equivalent that they have is heavily watched by authorities. Similarly, places like Russia/Ukraine (which have similar reputations) have something equivalent that is more popular.

  3. In light of PRISM, the US government should request less, not more, right? If they already have all the data passively collected, why ask for it?

  4. Interesting! I am curious to see the numbers in relation to the population (keyword: normalization), but I am not sure whether it is ok to use the numbers facebook provides for own visualizations. Is it ok?

    1. You're more than welcome to download this workbook and play with the data. The data contained within is public.

      As for user counts, I would love to normalize the data, but user count by country is not publicly available.

    2. Great! I went ahead and played with the data: mainly calculated the percentage of the population where data was requested. There is one really astonishing fact: .


    3. This is certainly an alternative, but it doesn't truly normalize the data, in fact it may actually skews the numbers in the exact wrong direction. This doesn't normalize the data because you're making an assumption that facebook's penetration is the same in every country.

    4. Thank you for your feedback Andy!
      Do I really need to normalize over facebook's penetration in the country?
      As I understand the metric "Users/ accounts requested", this is a number showing how many times there was a request from the country, I guess independent of whether this person has a facebook account or not. Or should I rather assume that the country checked this beforehand? So my question was how frequent a government uses this source of investigation rather then to show which percentage of facebook users are affected.

  5. I am loving your portfolio. So much to explore and learn.