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FYI: Here's how to download a copy of your data from Facebook

Facebook has been under both media and governmental scrutiny over the past few days due to privacy concerns raised around its data handling procedures.

Over the weekend, some Facebook users discovered the firm was uploading their SMS and call logs without their explicit consent (to be clear, Facebook says users did consent with the implication that some did not understand what they were consenting to, which is a separate discussion).

In any case, if you're curious to see exactly what data Facebook has on you, the firm offers a tool for downloading and viewing all your data from its site.

How to download an archive of your Facebook data

  1. Open the Facebook website,
  2. On any page on the website, navigate to Settings,
  3. Under Settings > General, you'll see a link to "Download a copy of my Facebook data", click on that,
  4. Click on "Start My Archive" on the following page,
  5. When prompted, enter your password,
  6. Facebook then sends you an email when the archiving process is complete. You'll be prompted for your password again at this stage, then you can begin the download,
  7. When that's done, unzip the downloaded file.

In my case, my personal data came in at over a gigabyte, most of it comprised of Messenger exchanges, GIFs, and photos. It should go without saying that just because you deleted a messaging thread, it doesn't mean that Facebook doesn't necessarily have it stored, as I found out. The firm will also store a record of what ads you clicked on, and what your interests are.

For uploaded photos, you'll see the device used to capture the photo if it was a camera image, as well as the IP address and location. A history of your logins, browser, and operating systems used will be provided to you as well in this data dump.

Users who used the Android Facebook app before Android 5.0 Jelly Bean was launched may find their SMS and call log data present as well.

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