Down­load ev­ery­thing Face­book knows about you

What you need: Any web browser Time re­quired: 35 min­utes

Computer Active (UK) - - Contents -

Over the past few months it has be­come in­creas­ingly clear that Face­book stores a ver­i­ta­ble trea­sure trove of in­for­ma­tion about its users. When we checked our own pro­file we were shocked at the vol­ume of data it has about

us and our friends. We’ll show you how to down­load ev­ery­thing that Face­book knows about you. We’ll then show you how to per­ma­nently delete your Face­book ac­count if that’s what you de­cide.

STEP 1

First, go to www.face­book.com/set­tings and log into your Face­book ac­count. Here, click the small ‘Down­load a copy’ link. On the ‘Down­load your in­for­ma­tion’ page that opens, you’ll see what type of info is in­cluded 1 . Click the green Start My Archive but­ton 2 . Now en­ter your Face­book pass­word, click Sub­mit, then click the blue Start My Archive but­ton 3 in the pop-up. You’ll see a mes­sage say­ing that Face­book is gath­er­ing your in­for­ma­tion and will send you an email when it’s ready for you to down­load.

STEP 2

Af­ter a few min­utes you’ll see a Face­book no­ti­fi­ca­tion say­ing your in­for­ma­tion is ready to down­load. You’ll re­ceive an email from Face­book with a link. Click this link to open the ‘Down­load your in­for­ma­tion’ page within Face­book. Click the green Down­load Archive but­ton 1 , type your Face­book pass­word 2 , then click Sub­mit 3 to be­gin down­load­ing your data (as a zipped file). Cre­ate a new folder on your desk­top for ex­tract­ing this data.

STEP 3

You’ll need a file-com­pres­sion pro­gram to un­zip the data – we rec­om­mend Peazip ( www.peazip.org). Go to your PC’S Down­loads folder 1 and double-click the Face­book data file 2 . Peazip (or whichever file-com­pres­sion pro­gram you use) will open and you’ll see three sub-fold­ers: ‘html’, ‘mes­sages’ and ‘pho­tos’, and an ‘in­dex.htm’ file 3 . Click the Ex­tract drop­down menu 4 , se­lect ‘Ex­tract all to’ 5 , nav­i­gate to the folder you cre­ated in Step 2, then click Se­lect Folder. Once the ex­trac­tion has fin­ished, open the folder con­tain­ing your ex­tracted files.

STEP 4

Next, open the ‘html’ folder, double-click any of its HTML files, then se­lect your browser. On the web page that opens 1 , you’ll see sev­eral sec­tions on the left. Pro­file 2 has all the per­sonal in­for­ma­tion you’ve ever added to your Face­book pro­file - in­clud­ing email ad­dresses, phone num­bers, ed­u­ca­tion, ca­reer and re­la­tion­ship his­tory, all your in­ter­ests and a list of ev­ery Face­book page you’ve ever ‘liked’. Con­tact Info 3 has a list of your Face­book friends, along with their email ad­dresses and phone num­bers. Ads 4 lists all the Face­book ad­verts you’ve ever clicked 5 . Scroll to the bot­tom of this page to see a sec­tion called ‘Ad­ver­tis­ers who up­loaded a con­tact list with your in­for­ma­tion’ (we saw about 250 com­pa­nies listed here!).

STEP 5

The Time­line link on the left in­cludes ev­ery­thing you’ve writ­ten on other users’ time­lines and what­ever they’ve writ­ten on yours. Se­cu­rity lists all the de­vices, browsers and IP ad­dresses you’ve ever logged into Face­book from (and when). Next, re­turn to the folder with the ex­tracted files and open the ‘mes­sages’ folder 1 . Click the View tab 2 and se­lect ‘Pre­view pane’ at the top left to see this in File Ex­plorer 3 . You’ll see a nu­mer­i­cal list 4 of all the con­ver­sa­tions you’ve had (th­ese are or­dered al­pha­bet­i­cally based on the per­son or group name). At the top, you’ll see cat­e­gorised fold­ers 5 con­tain­ing all the files (pho­tos, videos, etc) you’ve ex­changed dur­ing th­ese con­ver­sa­tions.

STEP 6

Now go back and open the ‘pho­tos’ folder. At the top, you’ll see sev­eral fold­ers with ran­dom num­bers. Th­ese are photo al­bums con­tain­ing all the im­ages you’ve ever up­loaded to Face­book (in date or­der). Be­low the fold­ers, you’ll see num­bered HTML files that cor­re­spond to the fold­ers. Double-click any of th­ese to open it in your browser. You’ll see all the pho­tos in the al­bum 1 , along with when you took it 2 , meta­data 3 and any com­ments on that photo 4 .

STEP 7

You can’t re­move any of this data from Face­book’s servers un­less you per­ma­nently delete your ac­count. If you want to do that, go to www.face­book.com/help/delete_ac­count 1 and click ‘Delete my ac­count’ 2 . You’ll need to en­ter your pass­word, type the Captcha text, then click OK. You’ll now see a pop-up mes­sage say­ing that your ac­count has been de­ac­ti­vated and will be per­ma­nently deleted within 14 days, with the op­tion to log in and re­ac­ti­vate your ac­count within this time. Click OK to con­firm. ●

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