How to Download Your Facebook Data, and Why You Should

You give Facebook a lot of information, probably more information than you think. You also have a ton of content on Facebook that belongs to you. This is your information and your property. Here is how you can download your Facebook data, and why you should.

How to Download Your Facebook Data

Facebook made downloading your data easy and painless.

Downloading Your Facebook Data from the Facebook Website

1. Go to facebook.com – If you’re on a tablet or phone, go to the website, not the app. Although, you can do this from the app as well. See below.

2. Go to settings or use this link: https://www.facebook.com/settings – you can find the settings option in the dropdown list in the upper right.

3. Choose Your Facebook Information on the left side of the screen. Alternatively, this link should take you straight there: https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=your_facebook_information

You should see several options, including:

  • Access Your Information
  • Download Your Information
  • Activity Log
  • Managing Your Information
  • Delete Your Account and Information

You may want to spend a little time perusing some of these options. You’ll likely find a number of interesting things concerning the data Facebook has, and what you can do to manage that information. Don’t be afraid to poke around and nosey. After all, this is your stuff.

4. Choose the option to Download Your Information.

Once you’re in the download screen, you will see instructions for creating a package and how to download it when it’s ready. You don’t have to download everything. You can choose from a rather expansive list of options.

You can choose to only download your posts and media. You can choose to download your location and search history. You can pick a date range and all the messenger messages from that range. This part is up to you. You can go through this process as often as you want, so there’s no need to think you’ll leave something behind.

For most people, choosing to download as HTML is the best option. Facebook also allows you to download JSON file, but that’s only for tech-savvy people or people who know how to import Facebook data into other applications.

That’s really all there is to it. After you make your selections and click Create File, you will have to wait. You will receive a Facebook notification when the file is ready to download.

Downloading Your Facebook Data from the Facebook App

You can go through this whole process from the app. However, I wouldn’t recommend downloading the final file to your phone or tablet unless you have the space for it.

1. Open the Facebook App

2. Go to the triple bar/hamburger button – Usually located in the top right

3. Scroll to Settings & Privacy, and then choose Settings

4. Scroll to the Your Facebook Information section – From there, everything works just about the same as it does from the website.

What to Do With Your Facebook Data Download

The download will come to you as a compressed ZIP file. Most computers can open these natively. Otherwise, you can use WinRAR or 7-zip to open the file. Inside you will have an Index HTML file and folders with your posts and other information as HTML files.

Any media, such as pictures or videos, will also come in a folder. You can view these things individually. Any browser will open an HTML file. The best way to go about it is to unzip the entire folder, open the index.html file, then go from there.

Depending on how much you chose to include, the download file can turn out quite large. Make sure you have the data connection to download it all and the space for it on your computer or other device.

If you don’t want to download your data, you can choose the Access Your Information option and just look through it all. You can even see a history of all the ads you clicked on. Ain’t that something?

Why You Should Download Your Facebook Data Right Now

Facebook keeps hitting the news about privacy concerns. All that data the platform collects is your information; you should know what Facebook has of yours to share with advertisers and data collectors.

Courts and other legal entities can subpoena Facebook for access to this data. You should know what’s in there before others do.

Privacy concerns aside, there are numerous other reasons to download this data. Having a local copy of all your posts can help you more easily search through them. If you’re looking for posts that you want to use for something else, this is the best way to do it. For example, if you posted poetry all over your timeline, and in groups, this can help you find them all.

Maybe you just want your collection of pictures or videos without trying to download all of them one at a time. Remember, this is your stuff, your intellectual property, and your material. Shouldn’t you have a copy of your stuff?

One major consideration for downloading your data is if you plan to leave the platform. If you’re going to delete your account, make sure you grab your stuff on the way out.

@bryanMMathers 

One final thing: Keep in mind that Facebook changes its UI all the time. This article is based on the design and settings as they are right now. Things can change in the future. If you can’t find the option to download your Facebook data, keep looking. It’s in there somewhere.

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