Reddit Reveals How Often It Hands Over Your Info to The Government
The company released its first-ever transparency report today.
Image: Blake Patterson/Flickr
Reddit's anonymity only goes so far, especially if OP is in trouble with the law. According to the company's first-ever transparency report, Reddit received 55 government requests for user information last year and complied with 58 percent, handing over some user information 32 times.
The large chunk of those requests were made under US subpoenas, which Reddit says it requires if a government wants subscriber information like IP addresses, the date an account was created, or email addresses. To gain access to private messages and deleted posts or comments, Reddit requires governments to have a search warrant.
The company also provided law enforcement with user info for four of the seven "emergency requests" it received, when police believed a person would be in immediate danger that could be prevented with more identifying information.
"When notified of an emergency situation by law enforcement, we require that they provide as much information as possible and certify the request in writing," the report reads.
The report also emphasized that Reddit lets a user know before handing over their information to law enforcement, except in cases where they're legally prohibited from doing so.
The report follows suit with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Dropbox in attempting to be more open with users about when, why, and with whom they share their private information. But Reddit's report also differs from other social networks. For one, it received far fewer requests. In an entire year, only 55 requests were made for redditor info, compared to the 34,946 requests Facebook received or the 2,058 requests made of Twitter in just the first half of 2014.
One explanation for this is the fact that, while Facebook and Twitter field requests from around the world, Reddit only responds to requests from within the US. "We will not turn over user information in response to a formal request by a non-US government unless a US court requires it," the report reads—although there's a loophole that allows foreign governments to get around this.
Also making Reddit's report stand out was the inclusion of requests to have posts removed (neither Facebook nor Twitter include this information). Reddit received 218 requests to have posts removed and complied with 31 percent of them, only when provided with specific evidence of copyright or trademark infringement. Requests to remove content due to defamation claims were not complied with, the company noted.
Post-Snowden, users are demanding ever more transparency about when, why, and to whom companies are releasing our personal data. Though the transparency reports like this provide some insight into the raw numbers, there are still huge chunks missing about what big corporations are doing with our personal data.
But unlike some of the other sites jumping on the transparency bandwagon, Reddit has an advantage in gauging whether or not the information it's sharing is satisfying its users: redditors are really, really good at getting their point across.