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 😉
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).
At the bottom of the page click on “Download a copy’ of your Facebook data”, marked with a yellow box in the picture below.
Click the green “Download Archive” button
You’ll be asked to re-enter your password, do this and Submit
You’ll be shown the file-download info box for your computer, mine’s a Mac and looks like this
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.
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.
You’ll end up with a set of folders and an index.htm file.
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.
You can download a fresh copy of your data as often as you like
Be careful about sharing the data within your download, as you ‘ll have other people’s info in there too, not just yours.
It’s entirely possible that this is unnecessary. Apparently Facebook blocked apps that your friends were using from accessing your data back in 2014 (I only discovered this last week) so doing this now may be pointless, but I did this a few years ago, as well as blocking apps individually, and here’s how you do it.
Go to your App Settings page: https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=applications (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, then Apps in the menu that will appear on the left).
Click on each of the Edit buttons to change your settings to your preferences. As you can see from mine my preference is to switch things OFF.I have ‘Apps, Websites and Plug-ins’ disabled…
I have ‘Apps, Websites and Plug-ins’ disabled – that’s the Platform Apps one, and when I click on ‘Edit’ here’s what my settings look like.
For ‘Apps others use’ I would have previously unticked any option that might have been ticked, though to be honest this is probably superseded by having switched off the platform apps option anyway. But I am a bit ‘belts and braces’ when it comes to Facebook.
by @JoBrodie – who hopes you’ll tell her about other alternatives you know of 🙂
This post is a work in progress as I am currently trying out the different tools available.
Storify is closing its doors on 16 May 2018 and all content will become unavailable. Any time before that point you can download your own (and other people’s stories). To avoid having to keep writing Storify stories I’m just going to call them Stories for now.
Table of contents
Capturing Storify stories (aka Stories)
… your own
… or anyone else’s
Other capturing options
Re-publishing your Stories
Alternative tools for future use
The search continues…
1. Capturing Stories
Storify‘s cheerily named ‘End of Life’ FAQ can be found here: https://storify.com/faq-eol – follow the instructions in the section called “How do I export content from Storify?”
1.1 Capturing your own Stories
You can save your Stories as .XML, .HTML or .JSON files. When I tried with the HTML I was expecting a page of code but ended up with something that wasn’t quite that, and which I couldn’t embed into a new post. However you can still use the Save As option to save it as a web page (or as a PDF). You’d need to do this for each of your Stories.
You can also save as a web page by sticking .html at the end of any Story URL, then saving the resulting page.
Wakelet, a free tool, will very helpfully let you export all of your published Stories to its platform and it will automatically publish them for you once done. This works very well. I had 43 published Stories and I set it running last night and woke up to all of them being migrated (I think it probably didn’t take the whole of the night to happen!). So far it has the Jo seal of approval*.
To use it you need to sign up (free, I logged in through Google). You’ll be given a bit of text to add to your Storify profile (a sort of handshake) then you can start the process and select the published Stories you want to import.
For unpublished / draft Stories you can either publish them and do the above, or just get the draft on-screen and save it as a web page.
Sutori, also a free tool, that lets you export your Stories to them too. Here’s their blog post responding to the news of Storify closing. Once you’ve registered you can create a new Story and one of the options is to import from Storify.
Here’s the same content, imported from Storify, on Wakelet and Sutori. I think Wakelet wins this particular test because it shows the text of a deleted tweet. I created the Storify in 2011, included in it a tweet that I later deleted to see what happened (the tweet persisted) Storify original | Wakelet import | Sutori import
1.2 Capturing someone else’s Story
Sticking .html at the end of any Story URL, then saving the resulting page. I don’t think you can use Wakelet to capture other people’s Stories, but you can with Sutori (however if they receive a ‘please remove’ request from the person who originally wrote it they will delete it).
1.3 Other capturing options
With short Stories you could copy the link for each ‘atom’ that makes up your Story (tweets, YouTube video links etc) and insert them individually into a WordPress dot com blog, but this would be ridiculously labour-intensive for larger Stories. Screenshotting / screencapturing is also an option, or using tools like Freezepage etc.
2. Re-publishing your Stories
Wakelet will automatically take care of that, your Stories now have a new web address (which brings its own annoyance but at least they’re published).
For Stories saved as web pages (or as text, then perhaps as a PDF) you could either upload the PDF to your website (eg a free WordPress dot com blog, like this one) or put the file in something like free Dropbox and share the link wherever you like.
3. Alternative tools for future use
Wakelet – this seems to be the most similar to Storify so far (I have not tested it for creation of new Wakelets, only for importing old Stories)
Sutori – (how to create a Sutori story guide) I have created an example Sutori with four of my tweets. I think it looks nice but seems to be too labour-intensive for collecting larger volumes of tweets. Possibly I need to spend a bit more time with it.
Shorthand Social – I’ve not tried this yet but clearly it lets you embed tweets. I don’t know if it lets you add them at the same volume that Storify did though (several hundred at a time). Here’s their ‘guide to Shorthand Social‘ post.
Participate – I have not tested this but it a colleague mentioned that it can save old Storify posts.
Twitter threading – if you’re just interested in collecting together a bunch of tweets then create a thread, encouraging people to reply to that (you can use the Unroll tool to get all the participating tweets in one collection). Admittedly this doesn’t work as well if you have a bunch of conversations going on based around a hashtag.
Twitter Moments – I think this only works for tweets, don’t think you can add in YouTube links (but I haven’t tried so maybe you can).
WordPress dot com blogs – many things will embed into WordPress blogs. I use the free .com version so am a bit more restricted than the .org versions (where you have to download software and you’d have your own server) but you can easily add a tweet’s link and it will autoembed as the full tweet (it will remain if deleted too).
4. The search continues…
I wanted to find out what people on Twitter were recommending as an alternative and searching there for Storify alternatives brought up Wakelet as the clear winner, in part because they have been very proactive in contacting people tweeting that they’re seeking alternatives – a sensible use of targeted marketing! There are also lots of people recommending it.
To find additional options I ran the same search but added -wakelet to remove tweets mentioning that to let me see the other options more clearly, that highlighted Sutori and Shorthand Social. Chatting on Twitter let me hear about Participate.
*Re: Wakelet importing
Obviously some things are lost in the transfer – eg the view count, the date of publication and any embedded Stories within a Story will eventually be lost. I tried and failed to add a link to the Wakelet version of one of mine. The Wakelet URL for an imported story is alphanumeric rather than following the pattern of Storify which has its domain / the user name / the name of the Story – that would have been helpful but fairly minor compared to losing all the Stories and the effort involved in capturing them!
Musical accompaniment is ‘She’ (live) by Alice Phoebe Lou – this is used as the end credit song for Bombshell: the Hedy Lamarr story, about the inventor and film star, and has been Oscar-shortlisted for Best Original Song.
For all its faults Facebook is pretty good at helping you to decide who can see the posts you put on your timeline and it lets you adjust your privacy settings easily.
Below are screenshots of the most common options –
On the left, the globe = public – anything you post to your timeline with this option means it’s available to everyone (whether or not they’re logged in to Facebook, it’s very public). The middle one that looks like two heads = friends and this will be visible to any of your friends. The gear icon on the right indicates the post has been shared with a restricted group of your friends, or some other custom setting.
Note that if you tag a friend (by writing @ theirname [without the space] in the post) then your friend’s friends will ALSO be able to see your post (the icon looks the same as the friends one though).
To access and amend these options when writing your new post click on the grey option in the screenshot below. Mine says ‘Friends’ as that’s my default setting, yours might be different. When you click on it it will go blue and all the options will appear.
There are lots of options to pick from – if you want to throw a surprise party for someone pick the ‘Friends except…’ to hide it from them, or you can choose the Custom option and select which friends will be able to see the post. You can also create preset groups here too (I think I created a ‘Gig’ one, looks like it, bit surprised if I created a theatre one though [though I do recommend Travesties at the RTC if you’re in New York]).
You can check any previous post you’ve published to see what its options were.
I think that once you change your posting settings for a single post then Facebook may tend to default to that option for your next post – so you may need to keep an active eye on things.
I’m afraid I have no idea what happens if you comment on someone else’s post – it may depend on the privacy settings they’ve set for their post (you can see the relevant icon at the top of their post, next to the timestamp). If you’re commenting on a page then I think your comment’s ‘reach’ or visibility will be the same as the default setting for the page. If anyone knows…
THEFT: You have to wonder why Mail journalists like @jackturnerphoto even bother to ask permission to use photos in stories when they clearly plan to do so whether they get it or not. pic.twitter.com/1K1rXeSSj4
Every few weeks I see a flurry of tweets about someone whose photo, which they shared on Twitter, has been used online (and possibly in print) in a newspaper without their permission. Quite often someone from the newspaper in question has asked if they can use the photo and then the paper has gone ahead and used it even where permission was denied.
That's the wrong answer. The right answer is "Yes, the fee is £100,000 and any publication will constitute acceptance of these terms".
There seems to be no currently known or effective way of preventing such unauthorised re-use but a handful of people have reported retrospective success in getting paid for use of the photo as well as additional payment for its unauthorised use. This post points to some of those successes and information about what your rights are – note however that I am not a lawyer, always seek advice from appropriately qualified people if you need it.
If you take a photograph it is automatically yours in terms of copyright and sharing it on social media doesn’t grant anyone else automatic rights to re-use it. Pictures posted to Twitter or anywhere else are not automatically “in the public domain” even though they are public and available to be seen by everyone. The phrase ‘public domain’ has different meanings in different contexts but in legal / copyright terms it does not simply mean ‘displayed in public‘: “The legal term public domain refers to works whose exclusive intellectual property rights have expired, have been forfeited, have been expressly waived, or are inapplicable” – Wikipedia. If you’ve posted your photo somewhere you get to decide how it’s used.
Generally for practical purposes it’s usually fine to embed the image elsewhere because doing so links back to the original post with credit. Presumably people could object to this of course (I am not aware of examples). Ironically in this post I have embedded tweets above which contain images that were used without permission by one newspaper…
Note that online newspapers can also benefit from advertising revenue, which may depend on the number of page visits – so your image may also be contributing to their income.
If you are asked on Twitter by a newspaper to use your image, take a screenshot of their tweet and of your reply, showing context.
How people have responded to requests to use their images This 2017 post outlines a disappointing phone call with newspaper staff about images used without permission and the photographer includes a copy of the letter they sent. The blog post hasn’t yet been updated with an outcome but there’s an interesting comment from ‘Frank’ who recommends that people speak with a lawyer before contacting an infringing party. They point to a 2011 article from Editorial Photographers United Kingdom and Ireland called “Stolen photographs: what to do?” – this is probably worth reading first, before contacting the paper.
For people using smartphones to take images of ‘stuff happening’ that then becomes newsworthy there are apps that let you add watermarks and comments. I presume these can also be removed later, presumably by you (but perhaps by newspapers) so I might suggest screenshotting the image first and sharing that instead. For iPhone users on iOS 10+ there’s apparently something helpful within the Camera roll that lets you write on your pics.
Incidentally as far as I’m aware a screenshot also has minimal EXIF data.
Then a window like this will appear…
From File Format options, choose PDF.
In the screenshot above, from a Mac, the file location is accessed through ‘Favorites’ (seen on the left). The PDF will be stored in the same location as your source file, unless you specify otherwise.
On PCs the PDF will often immediately open once created unless you switch that setting off.
You can save Excel files and PowerPoint presentations as PDFs too (probably anything in the MS Office suite). For other file types the option give might be ‘Export as PDF’. See Zamzar below for converting other things to PDFs.
Further file conversion fun PDFEscape is a free online tool that lets you do lots of things with PDFs. It’s aimed at Windows users but it seems to work fine on a Mac too. I’ve not used it to edit the text inside a PDF myself but have used it to combine two PDFs into one file: Converting a single A4 PDF into two A5 copies on one page
Zamzar will let you convert files into all sorts of formats (it’s amazing, never failed me yet). It works for documents, images, music, videos – even books, compressed files and CAD files (list of conversion types). You upload your file, it does the conversion then emails you when it’s done and you can download the converted file (which is later deleted from their servers).
Today I used http://t.co/rbAD5Zjy to convert a .png to a .pdf to print as an A1 poster. Worked very well so am recommending site.
Well this’ll be a cheerful post 😉 But it was inspired by this lovely tweet from James O’Brien.
My youngest has had my old phone for a couple of years. Just for games, which I download for her before disconnecting the internet. Still has my old contacts though & it turns out she’s been messaging my dad, who died 5 years ago. I may have something in my eye. pic.twitter.com/RZ5ZTgGbnk
My dad died in Nov 2016 and at the time I was too all over the place to actually manage to record the last voicemail message he sent me a few days before (I’d spent the day with him the day before he died and spoke to him on the morning of the day he died so the voicemail message was from a few days earlier). I was very glad that I’d had the presence of mind earlier in the year to make a recording of a message he’d left me – he’d been ill and I think it had been in my mind that I might not have that many opportunities to record him. I’m glad I did. Sadly I didn’t think to do the same for my mum.
Here’s my dad, leaving a voicemail message on my phone, telling me about a BBC Four programme I’d have enjoyed about the London to Penzance overnight sleeper train which I’d travelled on the year before.
If your loved one has a Wikipedia page they may even want to record something to append to their wiki entry! Find out more at the Wikipedia Voice Intro Project.
After people die…
It really seems to me that as soon as someone dies and you go through the process of registering the death etc etc that someone official should suggest capturing any old voicemail messages (texts too I suppose) as their capture is very time-limited. It would be great if phone companies and phone manufacturers made it super easy for people to access a better-quality recording. Meanwhile, here’s my rather old school way of doing it.
1. Making a recording of someone’s outgoing voicemail message
When you ring someone and they’re not there this is the message you hear from them before you leave your message. To record this some kind person (Pete Keen) has created a free online tool which will let you download the message as an .mp3 – see VMSave for more.
2. Making a recording of a message that someone’s left on your phone
I literally played the voicemail message through the speaker on my landline phone and held my iPhone microphone up to it, recording the message you can hear above with the already-installed Voice Memo app. It took a couple of goes to get a good recording, ensuring the right positioning of the microphone next to the speaker.
If the deceased person has left a message ON your iPhone (ie you can’t record it from the same decvice) then I’d suggest some borrowing someone else’s phone that has a voice memo recording facility, playing it on speaker phone rather than topping/tailing the microphone and speaker. If you have a laptop or computer with a microphone then you can use that to make a free recording with Vocaroo.
The recording results in an .m4a file which you can email to yourself from the phone (you can also use iTunes to move it around too) and you can listen to it on iTunes or the free VLC player and I’m sure plenty of other things too.
For sharing it with others possibly the best thing, beyond emailing a copy, is to download (or do it online) free Dropbox and add the file there. You can then share the link with anyone, only those with the link can access it but it is technically public. I have a sound-related blog and I pay an annual fee which lets me add any file (curiously WordPress dot com blogs don’t let you upload sound files without paying!) so that works for me. Much more public ways to share a sound file might include Soundcloud and things like that.
See also this post: Capturing / sharing voice memos from iPhone and WhatsApp – it contains instructions on how to capture a voice message originally sent by WhatsApp and also has screenshots of the process involved in using the iPhone voice memo and sending the resulting file by email.
I’m hoping to find out other, better ways of making recordings and update this post – if you know of a simple method (that people who don’t have professional recording equipment could do) please let me know.