What to Look for in Your Facebook Dataand How to Find It

You’ve likely heard by now about Cambridge Analytica, the shadowy, Trump-affiliated data analysis firm that reportedly siphoned off info belonging to 50 million Facebook users, according to The Guardian and Observer, along with The New York Times. In the wake of the scandal over Facebook’s privacy rules, users have become newly interested in the data that Facebook accumulates and holds about them. But while the social network shapes it fairly simple to download everything it knows about you, it doesn’t offer a roadmap for how to parse that data or figure out what it means.

Facebook announced Wednesday, nonetheless, that in the coming weeks, it will expand the data it makes it possible to download to include likes, reactions, investigation record, and locating record. The social network also plans to add an option for users to transfer the data to another service if they crave. Constituent of the rollout includes a new tool called Access Your Information, which allows users to more easily panorama and delete age-old posts, reactions, commentaries, and scour history.

For now though, your Facebook data is still likely filled of amazes. Over the weekend, some Android customers were shocked to learn that Facebook retained metadata about their call and SMS history. That’s far from the only concerning piece of information you might discovers by sorting through your Facebook file. Here’s what I met looking through excavation, and tips-off for how to find the most interesting information in yours.

Get the Goods

First, you’ll need to download the file of data that Facebook has on you. To do so, go to your Facebook settings. At the bottom of the General tab, you are able to appreciate an option to Download a copy of your Facebook data_. After opting in, you’ll receive two emails, one acknowledging that Facebook received your request, and another that includes the file when it’s ready. Depending on how much content you’ve posted to Facebook–including photos, videos, text posts, and other forms of media–it might take some time for the record to be prepared.

I’ve been on Facebook for over a decade, and my 277.2 MB file was ready within a half hour. But I also haven’t uploaded many photos or videos to the locate. Once you have the file, you can download it as a folder to your desktop. Mine was labeled “facebook-louisematsakis.”

The first part of information you will want to look at is a record labeled index.htm. Clicking on this record will open a tab within your browser, with a menu of options on the left-hand back. Under Profile, you’ll find a listing of basic info the locate has about you, like the exact time you signed up for Facebook, the contact information you’ve furnished, as well as any operate or education history.

One surprising part of information on this screen: Facebook stops a roster of everyone you’ve previously said you were in a relationship with. For me, this includes a bunch of my friends, because back in middle-of-the-road and high school, it was cool to declare you were in a relationship with a close friend. The roll simply includes three people I’ve actually dated. The very first person on the roster is, inexplicably, my fucking cousin( being 13 was strange, OK ?).

Photos, Videos, and Friends

The Photos tab contains every photo you’ve ever uploaded to the locate, as well as related metadata, like the IP address from which each photo was uploaded. Scroll down, and you’ll find a link to the facial acknowledgment data that Facebook holds. If you click it, you can see your Example Count, which could be the number of photos Facebook are applied to instruct a machine learning algorithm to recognize your face. My Example Count is 214. Facebook says this figure is “a unique number based on a analogy of the photos you’re tagged in. We use current data to assistance others tag you in photos.”

If you want to opt-out of Facebook’s facial acceptance aspects, here’s how to do that.

One fascinating mention about photos: My Facebook data didn’t appear to included tagged photos of me, merely photos I had uploaded myself.

The Videos tab contained dozens of clips I posted to your best friend’ timelines when I was a teenager. It’s impressive how much you can forget what you shared over the years; I was shocked to be recognised that Facebook had so many grainy videos of my face at 13, 14, and 15 years old. Likewise fun? If you registered a video on Facebook but never actually posted it, Facebook still has it.

In the Friends tab you’ll find every single one of your Facebook friends, as well as the date that you added one another. If you unfriended person, and then re-added them later, they’ll show up on such lists twice. The listing also includes all of my best friend requests that you have declined.

Pay special attention to the very sole of the page, where you can see what “Friend Peer Group” Facebook thinks you’re in. Mine says “Starting Adult Life.”

Advertising& Other Weird Info

The most interesting part of your index is the Ads tab. There, Facebook will show you a list of ad categories it has associated with your report. Mine include dozens of books like Harper’s and Buzzfeed, as well as displeasing ones like “Goth subculture” and “Middle Class.”

I have certainly poked people on Facebook more occasions than this.

Below this list you’ll meet circulars you’ve supposedly clicked on; excavation has 40, dating back to January. And below that is a distressing roll of advertisers Facebook articulates “have your contact information.”( Former Facebook ad executive Antonio Garcia Martinez suggests that this signifies the advertisers came to Facebook with your info , not the other way around .) They may have brought this information to the social network use Facebook’s custom audience tool, according to a Facebook representative. For me, this includes major firms like Walmart, ASOS, Airbnb, and Marriott Rewards. It also includes a number of ensembles, the dating app Happn, which I don’t recall ever using, and “House of Blues Dallas.” I have never been to Dallas.

One data set seems astonishingly incomplete; under Pokes I was inexplicably greeted by merely two jabs, one from 2013 and another from last year. I are really poked people on Facebook more hours than this. It’s unclear why Facebook has only chosen to retain these two poking instances, though other users appear to have experienced the same oversight. Facebook didn’t answer a request for note about why it has only stopped trail of a select listing of pokes.

The last thing to check in your indicator is the Applications tab, which is a list of apps you’ve used to sign up with using your Facebook profile.


Aside from the index, your Facebook data file should also include several other folders, labeled html, messages, photos, and videos. Predominantly they repeat information that’s also included in the indicator. Don’t hop-skip them wholly though. In Messages> files, for example, “re all the” records you’ve sent over Facebook Messenger, and Messages> photos contains all the images you’ve transmit. Mine merely appear to date back several years, likely because I used to regularly delete my Facebook messages.

Call& SMS Records

If you have an Android device, you may have given Facebook or Facebook Lite permission to access your call and text record years ago. Specifically, before Google changed how permissions worked in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, simply permitting Facebook to access your contacts also let it grab your call and message logs.

Find out for sure by clicking the Contact Info tab. Because I’ve only ever utilized an iPhone–Apple doesn’t allow apps to rub call and text history–this tab simply contained a listing of my phone’s contacts. If “youve had” granted permission, this screen will also include a certified creepy-crawly list of your call and SMS history.

Get Rid of It

Now that you’ve seemed through your Facebook data, here’s how to delete some of it. Prevent in head that Facebook announces it is proposed to soon make it easier to delete data, but for now, the relevant procedures is moderately cumbersome.

The first place to start is your contacts. First, manager over to Facebook’s “Manage Invites and Imported Contacts” page. At the bottom of the screen, there’s an option to “Remove all contacts, ” though you can also choose to manually remove specific ones. You’ll need to repeat this step for contacts you’ve uploaded through Facebook Messenger, which you can do here. Lastly, you’ll need to prevent Facebook from endlessly re-uploading your contacts. You can learn how to turn off that fixeds here. Again, you’ll need to do it twice, formerly on the Facebook App and again on Messenger.

Lastly, here’s how to delete individual posts you’ve made to Facebook. Click the top right-hand options tab on desktop, and then click Activity Log. There, you’ll be able to delete any post from your history, and they are able to jump to specific times if you’d like to delete the oldest material first. If you’re interested in volume deleting, you can use a Chrome extension like Social Book Post Manager.

If you’re not quite ready mass-remove your old posts, but want to limit who can see them, here’s a full guidebook to updating your Facebook’s privacy establishes. Remember, though, that Facebook says it’s going to re-vamp its privacy features in coming weeks–which mean you get to do this all over again.

More on Facebook

The Federal Trade Commission is officially investigating Facebook’s privacy rules for the first time since 2011

What would it even look like if the FTC or the other organization tried to regulate the social giant?

Here’s an inside gaze at Facebook’s last two hellish years, as the company has struggled to maintain public trust

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