With years of photo uploads, status updates and the accumulation of friends, you’ve amassed quite a collection of info inside Facebook, whether you know it or not. And the social network hangs on to every bit of that.
It can be pretty bracing to see how much information the social network has on its users, even casual ones (And if you’re a heavy Facebook user, the data dump can be positively huge). To see what the company has been compiling about you, or to wrangle your Facebook data for your own personal storage, read on for the how-to.
Facebook allows users access to their data in a fairly straightforward way. But the key to this is patience. In some cases, it can take an hour or more to generate the reports.
The company divvies up the load into three categories:
Downloaded Info: This covers the fundamental backbone of your Facebook account. You can download a copy of your Timeline and all the content that has ever been posted to it, your friends list, messages, RSVP’d events, and all of your Facebook pics and vids.
To access: Hit up Account Settings and, on the General subsection, scan the bottom of the page for the sentence/link: “Download a copy of your Facebook data.” (Be patient, especially if you’re a Facebook fiend: For some people, it took as long as an hour to receive an emailed alert that the report is ready.)
Expanded Archive: All that and a bag of chips — i.e., everything above, plus details like IP addresses for every account log-in/log-out; history of your apps, pages, and friends (even those you hid from your News Feed); and a record of Pokes given and received, among others.
To access: Go to the same area (Account Settings, click on “Download a copy of your Facebook data”). On the page, below the sections “What’s in your archive?” and “What’s not in your archive?”, is a sentence with the link to access your expanded archive.
Activity Log: Do the previous two sections not offer enough detail? Then you’ll be interested in snagging your Activity Log. This is basically a history of all your activity, and includes everything you’ve ever commented on or liked, apps you’ve used and third-party sites that use Facebook plug-ins. You can see every Facebook “Like” you ever made and everything you’ve searched for on the site. (Yep, even that old high school crush you once checked out just to see how they’re doing.)
To access: This time, instead of Account Settings, you can access your Activity Log by visiting your Timeline. Click on the “Activity Log” button beneath the cover pic, and then tap the “Posts and Apps” button for a drop-down list of items to peruse.
(For more information on exactly what type of info is available per method, click this link for the Facebook help page.)
Some people will be happy that they can back up so much of their Facebook data, while others will be simply aghast at the level of detail that is being stored (and used for advertising purposes). There are privacy settings, of course, but it’s like too much of a good thing — drilling down deep through several pages of controls leaves a lot of people more frustrated than relieved.
If you relate to that, here’s a hint: Try Privacyfix. Not only does this new Chrome/Firefox extension reveal which websites are sharing your data and which ones are tracking you, but it also displays Facebook and Google privacy settings in a clean, simple dashboard. It even tips you off to things you might particularly want to tweak by flagging it in yellow. Tapping it takes you right to the opt-out page for that setting.
Let us know if you’re going to download your Facebook data or, if you’re familiar with Privacyfix, tell us if you recommend it.