How to download your Facebook data

In early 2018, Facebook was in the epicenter of the so-called The Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal, when the personal information of Facebook users was harvested and analyzed by Cambridge Analytica Ltd. It made us wonder, what does this social network really know about us, about our habits, and so on? Analyzing the information from the profile online is not a good method to answer the question. But there is a better solution – you can download your Facebook data and peruse it later.

It is not a new trick, no. But not many users know about this functionality. It is very to do – you will need just a few minutes for the whole procedure. Well, maybe more, if you have a big old profile with a long history. No special knowledge or hacking skills required – just follow our instructions, and you will get your Facebook data in no time.

Downloading your Facebook data is easy

1. Open your Facebook page and find on the arrow at the top right corner that is pointing down. Look for the icon with “?” (Quick Help) – the arrow you need is right next to the icon. Click on Settings.

2. Open General Account Settings (Facebook opens this menu by default anyway). You will see a list that contains information about you: Name, Username, and so on. Here you need to find the link “Download a copy of your Facebook data” and click it.

3. Facebook will open another page with the “Download Your Information” heading. Look for the “Start My Archive” link and click it. A notification will pop-up informing you that you have to wait a few minutes before your archive is ready for download. Also, you will receive an email from the social network that someone has requested your data (security reasons, you know). Facebook will also send another email when your data archive is ready.

4. Open the second Facebook email with the download notification and click on the link in it. This is a necessary procedure to prove that it was really you who requested the data.

5. When you click the link, your browser will open the Download Your Information page on Facebook. On that page, you will see the Download Archive link. Once you click that link, the download process will be initiated.

6. A box will appear, demanding you to enter the Facebook password. Type the password, then click Submit to proceed.

7. Your browser will start the download process. The size of the archive depends on the information you have on Facebook. The most active social media users will have to wait longer for the download to finish.

How can I read my Facebook data?

The data you have downloaded from Facebook will be presented in the form of a local mini-site. Open the folder with the files and look for one particular file named index.htm. Double click that file to open it in your web browser. The first page you see will be your Profile page. It contains all the personal information you entered on Facebook. Also, it contains multiple clickable links – you can check them as well to see what else does Facebook know about you. The link you should check first are:

  • Messages. It is your history of all messages sent and received via the Messenger app. Unread messages are also here.
  • Security. Here you can see when you visit the Facebook site.
  • Ads. Displays what advertisers have access to your information. Also, what ads on the website you clicked in the past.
  • Applications. It is a list of Facebook-linked services/apps you used (or currently using).

If you want to hide or remove some information, you need to go online and log into your Facebook account. Deleting data from the archive does not affect your profile.