How to download your Facebook profile data (with screenshots)

This post accompanies the previous post: How to switch off Facebook platform apps 

You may be interested to see what data Facebook has kept about your use of Facebook and interactions with other people. Instructions are below.

If you’re an Android phone user it seems that Facebook may have kept copies of information about who you’ve called and when, and even the text of … the texts. As an iPhone user I can’t be too reassured though because if I’ve texted friends of mine who have an Android phone with Facebook on it then I can probably assume that (a) data about me are embedded with theirs and (b) I can’t access it directly (perhaps I could do a Subject Access Request, though presumably my information is held overseas).

Facebook’s Data Policy wants you to: “Bear in mind that information that others have shared about you is not part of your account and will not be deleted when you delete your account.” (from “How can I manage or delete information about me?”).

I downloaded my own data the other day and didn’t actually find much in there that concerned me – possibly because I switched off Facebook Platform Applications years ago – beyond noting that Facebook has every single contacted uploaded to my phone before 2009. I’m now using a different phone and phone number and haven’t shared that with Facebook. I do use Facebook on my iPhone, but not through the app and only by logging in on Safari. This probably doesn’t do a great deal (beyond psychological) to protect my data as I do have WhatsApp on my phone (and it can access my contacts) and Facebook owns WhatsApp 😉

A) How to download your Facebook data (below)
B) How to switch off Facebook platform apps (previous blog post)

A) How to download your Facebook data

Facebook’s own instructions (much shorter than mine, which you might prefer!) and here’s what you might expect to see in your own download, depending on your settings.

  1. Log in to Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ on desktop / browser (don’t think you can do this on the phone app…?)
  2. Go to your Settings page: https://www.facebook.com/settings (or use the on-screen menu to get there, using that little white arrow to the right of the question mark, then click on Settings).
    Screenshot 2018-03-25 11.57.50.png
  3. At the bottom of the page click on “Download a copy’ of your Facebook data”, marked with a yellow box in the picture below.
    Screenshot 2018-03-25 12.01.11
  4. Click the green “Download Archive” button
    Screenshot 2018-03-25 12.04.21.png
  5. You’ll be asked to re-enter your password, do this and Submit
    Screenshot 2018-03-25 12.07.50
  6. You’ll be shown the file-download info box for your computer, mine’s a Mac and looks like thisScreenshot 2018-03-25 12.09.50
  7. Save the .zip file – it’ll likely default to being in your Downloaded files area but you may wish to move it into a particular location first before ‘unboxing’ it and seeing what’s in there.
  8. Unzip the (compressed) .zip file – on a Mac this appears to be an automatic thing using a built-in unzipping program. If your computer doesn’t unzip the file you may need to download a free unzipping utility program but here are Windows instructions on uncompressing .zip files.
  9. You’ll end up with a set of folders and an index.htm file.
    Screenshot 2018-03-25 12.18.11
    That index file will open up into your browser window (it is not ON the web, it is a local copy that only you can see, doing this has not published it anywhere – you’ll see file://Users or something like that where the ‘link’ or ‘URL’ would normally be). You can very easily interact with the information by clicking on the menu options on the left. Alternatively you can drill into each folder and open up individual pages.
    Screenshot 2018-03-25 12.23.50.png
  10. You can download a fresh copy of your data as often as you like
  11. Be careful about sharing the data within your download, as you ‘ll have other people’s info in there too, not just yours.
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