How to Download Your Entire Facebook History
You may wish to download your Facebook data if you’re deleting your account permanently or if you’re just interested in the information the social network holds on you.
As Mark Zuckerberg stated when he pledged to reform Facebook following the Senate hearings in April 2018, the ability to export your Facebook data has been available since 2010.
Let’s examine how to get your Facebook data, what is included, and—possibly most importantly—what is excluded.
How to Download Your Facebook Data and History
The data download request can be made by any Facebook user through their General Account Settings. This is possible on Facebook Lite as well as on mobile browsers, Facebook apps, and desktop browsers.
We’ll go over the approach most users would choose because the download you’re doing is rather large: sending the request through your desktop browser.
How to Request Your Data on the Facebook Website
- Log in to Facebook.com.
- Click on the downward arrow in the top-right corner and click Settings & Privacy > Settings, or head to Facebook.com/settings.
- Click Your Facebook Information.
- Go to Download Your Information and click on View.
- Select what data points to include by checking the appropriate box under Deselect All, or maintain the default settings.
- Then click Create File.
- Wait until your data is ready to download. You will receive a notification when it’s done.
- Click on the notification, review the file size, then click Download.
- Enter your Facebook password to confirm your identity, then wait for the download to complete.
How much data you choose to download will determine how long it takes Facebook to build a copy of your information.
Your data will be supplied in a ZIP archive when it does.
Customizing Your Facebook Data Download
- Date range: Handy if you don’t want to trawl through years of data to find something.
- Format: Choose between HTML (default) and JSON. If in doubt, leave it on HTML.
- Media quality: Higher will mean a larger download size, though this is still going to be worse than the quality of the original upload due to Facebook’s aggressive compression.
Various objects can also be excluded from the download. Uncheck the films and photographs you don’t need if you want a lean download and you’ll see a big difference in the size of your download.
Exploring Your Downloaded Facebook Data
Once your ZIP file has been downloaded, unpack it to reveal a basic folder hierarchy that corresponds to the earlier-selected or deselected items. You are welcome to browse through these directories, but opening index.html or index in the root folder is much simpler.
To view the facts in each segment in chronological sequence, click on the individual sections. If you wish to return to the index, click your name in the top right corner.
Other downloadable datasets include:
- Ads Interests: Essentially topics that Facebook describes as “most relevant to you”. This is worth a look since many of the categories probably don’t apply to you.
- Advertisers who’ve uploaded a contact list with your information: Facebook describes these as advertisers who “run ads using a contact list they’ve uploaded which includes contact info that you’ve shared with them or with one of their data partners”.
- Advertisers that you’ve interacted with: Just how ad-savvy are you?
- Messages: Including those you thought you’d deleted.
- Friends: Including juicy categories like Rejected friend requests and Removed friends you’d forgotten about.
What’s Not Included in Downloaded Facebook Data?
Facebook only discloses the information you have expressly supplied; it does not reveal everything it knows about you. A few restricted advertising signs exist, such as your overall interests and ads you’ve interacted with, but these don’t reveal the complete story.
Over 52,000 different “attributes” that Facebook uses to categorize its users have been found by ProPublica. The majority of these metrics are absent from your Facebook download’s Ad Interests area.
Instead, to see what Facebook believes it knows about you, you must locate the list named “Interest Categories” in the Ad Preferences section of your Facebook settings. This is implied information—descriptors that have been utilized to group you based on all of your interactions with Facebook services.
Depending on the permissions you have enabled and whether you permit location tracking in the background, for instance, certain other categories may appear weirdly empty.
Users need to be aware that the social network definitely knows more about them than what is contained in the download. We don’t know what information Facebook gathers about us based on the profiles we visit and the groups we participate in the most.
It would be interesting to observe how laws change as long as the government is looking into how Facebook handles user data.
Downloading Other Facebook Photos and Videos
What does it matter if you wish to download a video or picture in which you were tagged? Since they are not technically yours, Facebook does not include them in your data download. There are many good reasons why you might desire to download material from the website. In many areas, fair use laws safeguard your right to use this work.
It’s a little trickier to download private Facebook videos since you have to copy the website source code and paste it into a particular private video downloader. The most sensible choice, in this case, seems to be FBDown Private Video Downloader.
Is It Time to Delete Facebook?
It’s fair to say that Facebook currently has a bit of a reputation issue. But despite significant data breaches and what appear to be sneaky advertising techniques, more individuals are utilizing the service than ever.
There are many good reasons not to use Facebook right now, but there are just as many good reasons to keep your account. So you have a choice. You should at the very least download your data whether or not you decide to stop using Facebook.