How to Download Your Facebook Data

How to Download Your Facebook Data

As investigations into Cambridge Analytica continue, it’s important to understand the role technology plays in our lives. And, to understand the privacy settings available on the platforms we use.

If you use Facebook, be sure to download your Facebook data so you can see what you are and aren’t sharing. If you realize you are sharing more information than you’d like, you can go to your settings and adjust them to give you the privacy you want.

Here are 5 simple steps for downloading your Facebook data

  1. Log into your Facebook account
  2. Go to your Settings

You get there by clicking the arrow at the top right section on the blue header.

  1. In Settings on the “General Account Settings” page, select “download my data.” You’ll find this link at the bottom of the page.

  1. On the Download Your Information page, click Start My Archive.

  1. Facebook will deliver your data via an email link. If you’ve been on Facebook for many years, expect the link to take a while.

Note: Once you fire off the request for your Facebook data, you’ll receive two emails. The first acknowledges that you made a request for your data. The next email contains the link to get the file containing all your Facebook data. Depending on the size of your file, the time for Facebook to send it will vary.


Now you downloaded your Facebook data. How do you interpret it?

All that data you downloaded doesn’t mean anything unless you are able to read and understand it. So, it’s important you know what the various files mean in the download you received from Facebook. Let’s walk through those files now.

  1. Download the file from the email link you receive. The file will be a .ZIP file, so you’ll need to unzip (extract) the file.

  1. When you unzip the file, you’ll find a folder which contains a few files. You’ll also notice a file INDEX.HTM. Start first by clicking on INDEX.HTM. This is a good place to start exploring.

  1. With your INDEX.HTM launched, you can begin looking at your Facebook profile page. Here you can see the general information about you and your Facebook account. You can see the exact day and time you opened your Facebook account. If you’ve added your physical address, you’ll see that (I haven’t, so my address isn’t noted). Other details you will see are your birthday, gender, hometown, and so on. Again, the information you see is there or not because you added it at some point. If it’s missing that means you’ve never added it. This file is showing everything you added, it’s not showing what information is public or private. So, if you notice you have everything listed, that doesn’t mean that information is public. It just means Facebook has it available in its database. If you scroll down, you’ll also see everything you’ve “liked”– books, music, television shows, movies, etc. Pages you’ve liked are listed as well, next to “Others.” I actually found this listing helpful. I had some old pages I needed to edit and remove.
  2. You can check your Friends list while on your Profile page by selecting Friends on the left-hand side. Here you can see your entire list of friends, friend requests you declined, and friends you removed. I noticed at the bottom of the page there was a Friend Peer Group. This is a category. Mine was Established Adult Life. That’s accurate I guess. And, I’m glad Facebook didn’t note me as Getting Older by the Minute.
  3. Check the ads Facebook is serving up to you by clicking on Ads on the left-hand side. I found a good deal of interesting things on my list. Some things I wasn’t remotely interested in and some were accurate.
  4. If you do nothing else in this post, do this: Check Applications. Again, you’ll find this on the left-hand side. Here you will see a list of apps which you sign in using Facebook. I know it’s easy and you don’t have to remember another password. But it’s a security risk. Use a password generator like LastPass instead. This means you can have a safe and secure password for every site you use. And, you only have to remember your password to the password generator.

Be sure and download your Facebook data so you can see what you are and aren’t sharing. Take some time to explore the file you receive from Facebook. It’s actually really interesting to take a look back, especially if you’ve had your Facebook account for a number of years.

Again, if you realize you are sharing more information than what you’d like, go to your settings and adjust them to give you the privacy you want. If your teens are using Facebook, be sure you encourage them to do this as well.

And don’t forget those older adults in your life who are using Facebook, but may need guidance when it comes to some of the privacy settings. Here is where we can reach across generational lines to help each other, especially within our circles of friends and family.

Did you download your Facebook data? Find anything surprising? Interesting? Fun?

1 Comment

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