Download everything Facebook knows about you
What you need: Any web browser Time required: 35 minutes
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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 .
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. ●