Taking control of your Facebook data starts with understanding just how much of your data is stored with Facebook. The social media service offers a self-help tool that gives you access to your entire trove of personal data. It's actually a fairly simple process that lets you see all your photos, videos, friends, contact info, messages, apps, and quite a bit more that Facebook's storing on its servers.
How to download a copy of your Facebook data
- On the web, visit the General Account Settings page.
- At the bottom of your General Account Settings, click Download a copy of your Facebook data.
- Click Start My Archive.
Enter your password and click Submit to continue.
- Click Start My Archive to start the process of creating your Facebook archive.
- Click Okay.
- Wait for an e-mail or Facebook notification letting you know your Facebook archive is ready to download.
Click Download Archive.
Enter your password and click Submit to download your Facebook archive.
Your archive will download as a ZIP archive. Inside you'll find four folders and an HTML page. Clicking on the HTML page will take you to a local representation of your Facebook archive. You can click on the links below your profile photo on the left to see everything Facebook is storing. If you're wondering, yep, Timeline goes all the way back to the beginning. I cringed — younger me was so angsty.
Want to know what data you'll be able to see in your Facebook archive? Here's what Facebook says will be made available to you:
|About Me||Information you added to the About section of your timeline like relationships, work, education, where you live and more. It includes any updates or changes you made in the past and what is currently in the About section of your timeline.|
|Account Status History||The dates when your account was reactivated, deactivated, disabled or deleted.|
|Active Sessions||All stored active sessions, including date, time, device, IP address, machine cookie and browser information.|
|Ads Clicked||Dates, times and titles of ads clicked (limited retention period).|
|Address||Your current address or any past addresses you had on your account.|
|Ad Topics||A list of topics that you may be targeted against based on your stated likes, interests and other data you put in your timeline.|
|Alternate Name||Any alternate names you have on your account (ex: a maiden name or a nickname).|
|Apps||All of the apps you have added.|
|Birthday Visibility||How your birthday appears on your timeline.|
|Chat||A history of the conversations you've had on Facebook Chat (a complete history is available directly from your messages inbox).|
|Check-ins||The places you've checked into.|
|Currency||Your preferred currency on Facebook. If you use Facebook Payments, this will be used to display prices and charge your credit cards.|
|Current City||The city you added to the About section of your timeline.|
|Date of Birth||The date you added to Birthday in the About section of your timeline.|
|Education||Any information you added to Education field in the About section of your timeline.|
|Emails||Email addresses added to your account (even those you may have removed).|
|Events||Events you've joined or been invited to.|
|Facial Recognition Data||A unique number based on a comparison of the photos you're tagged in. We use this data to help others tag you in photos.|
|Family||Friends you've indicated are family members.|
|Favorite Quotes||Information you've added to the Favorite Quotes section of the About section of your timeline.|
|Followers||A list of people who follow you.|
|Friend Requests||Pending sent and received friend requests.|
|Friends||A list of your friends.|
|Gender||The gender you added to the About section of your timeline.|
|Groups||A list of groups you belong to on Facebook.|
|Hidden from News Feed||Any friends, apps or pages you've hidden from your News Feed.|
|Hometown||The place you added to hometown in the About section of your timeline.|
|IP Addresses||A list of IP addresses where you've logged into your Facebook account (won't include all historical IP addresses as they are deleted according to a retention schedule).|
|Locale||The language you've selected to use Facebook in.|
|Logins||IP address, date and time associated with logins to your Facebook account.|
|Logouts||IP address, date and time associated with logouts from your Facebook account.|
|Messages||Messages you've sent and received on Facebook. Note, if you've deleted a message it won't be included in your download as it has been deleted from your account.|
|Name||The name on your Facebook account.|
|Name Changes||Any changes you've made to the original name you used when you signed up for Facebook.|
|Networks||Networks (affiliations with schools or workplaces) that you belong to on Facebook.|
|Pages You Admin||A list of pages you admin.|
|Pending Friend Requests||Pending sent and received friend requests.|
|Phone Numbers||Mobile phone numbers you've added to your account, including verified mobile numbers you've added for security purposes.|
|Photos||Photos you've uploaded to your account.|
|Photos Metadata||Any metadata that is transmitted with your uploaded photos.|
|Physical Tokens||Badges you've added to your account.|
|Pokes||A list of who's poked you and who you've poked. Poke content from our mobile poke app is not included because it's only available for a brief period of time. After the recipient has viewed the content it's permanently deleted from our systems.|
|Political Views||Any information you added to Political Views in the About section of timeline.|
|Posts by Others||Anything posted to your timeline by someone else, like wall posts or links shared on your timeline by friends.|
|Recent Activities||Actions you've taken and interactions you've recently had.|
|Registration Date||The date you joined Facebook.|
|Religious Views||The current information you added to Religious Views in the About section of your timeline.|
|Removed Friends||People you've removed as friends.|
|Screen Names||The screen names you've added to your account, and the service they're associated with. You can also see if they're hidden or visible on your account.|
|Spoken Languages||The languages you added to Spoken Languages in the About section of your timeline.|
|Status Updates||Any status updates you've posted.|
|Work||Any current information you've added to Work in the About section of your timeline.|
|Videos||Videos you've posted to your timeline.|
Do you think downloading your Facebook archive will be a good thing for you? Are you planning to keep using Facebook? Share your thoughts in the comments!