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

Kudos to Facebook: It's easy.

Credit: Facebook

What data does Facebook have on you? A staggering amount if you’ve 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. Here’s how.

Before you begin, make sure you’re logged into your Facebook account in your web browser. If you’re not, this won’t work.

Once that’s done, head over to the “Your Facebook Information” section of Facebook’s 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 company’s 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, you’ll see all your available options. If you’re 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, you’ll 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 you’ve made, every reaction and Like you’ve cast, everyone you’ve Poked or paid on the platform, every friend you’ve 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 you’ve made, and the ad profile that Facebook created for you—including any advertisers that uploaded a contact list with your information.

How to download your Facebook data

It’s a lot. If you want a copy of Facebook’s records, you can also Download Your Information.

facebook download data options Brad Chacos/IDG

Facebook offers granular options on what type of data you’d 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 you’ve 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 it’s 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 Facebook’s 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 you’re 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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Brad Chacos

Brad Chacos

PC World (US online)
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