How to see what Facebook knows about you, and download your data

 pcworld.com  01/21/2021 11:31:00   Brad Chacos

What data does Facebook have on you? A staggering amount if youve been using the service for a while. Fortunately, the social network makes it easy (if not straightforward) to find out exactly what information it has about your activities, and even lets you download your Facebook data. Heres how.

Before you begin, make sure youre logged into your Facebook account in your web browser. If youre not, this wont work.

Once thats done, head over to the Your Facebook Information section of Facebooks account management options. You can do it the easy way by simply following this link, or the more tedious way by clicking the downward-pointing arrow at the top-right corner of the page and selecting Settings & Privacy > Settings > Your Facebook Information. The companys Help Center page on Accessing & Downloading Your Information also provides handy links to the various resources available in the Your Facebook Information page.

On that page, youll see all your available options. If youre simply interested in seeing what current data Facebook has on you, the raw Activity Log may be worth looking at, but the real meat is in the Access Your Information landing page. From there, youll be able to see everything Facebook has saved throughout the lifetime of your account. It covers a massive array of different data types. Just look at the screenshot of available data sections below!

facebook data Brad Chacos/IDG

Most of these categories hold several sub-categories, too. (Click to enlarge.)

Yep, Facebook keeps tabs on every post and comment youve made, every reaction and Like youve cast, everyone youve Poked or paid on the platform, every friend youve made, your hometown, and much more.

The Information about You section act the bottom holds particularly noteworthy stuff. There, you can find records of your search history, login location history, any voice recordings youve made, and the ad profile that Facebook created for youincluding any advertisers that uploaded a contact list with your information.

How to download your Facebook data

Its a lot. If you want a copy of Facebooks records, you can also Download Your Information.

facebook download data options Brad Chacos/IDG

Facebook offers granular options on what type of data youd like, the format and quality of your download, and the date range for the data you want. By default, the Download Your Information page is configured to give you a massive file of everything youve ever done on the social network.

It takes a while for Facebook to create the archive. The time probably increases depending on your activity level and how long your account has been active. My 10-year-old account took roughly 15 minutes to compile and wound up being a large 1.23GB file, though I rarely upload pictures to the service.

facebook download data complete Brad Chacos/IDG

When its ready to go, Facebook will send you a notification, so you can download it to the device of your choice. Be warned that some of the information can be hard to parse in the downloaded format, however.

If seeing the extent of Facebooks records has you a bit shocked, the social giant also offers the ability to manage your data, with the linked-to Help Hub pointing you toward specific settings pages depending on what youre trying to do. Finally, if you want to go with the nuclear option, you can also deactivate or delete your Facebook account.

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