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Stop Facebook? Download your data before proceeding



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At first it was Cambridge Analytica. Now it's the ugly truth. What's next?

When you're finally ready to quit Facebook once and for all, you should take your data ̵

1; all your posts and messages, photos and videos, friends and groups, etc. – before you leave. Fortunately, Facebook makes it easier to download your data. So easy it's worth it, even if you do not plan to delete your Facebook account, just to see what information Facebook has collected about you.

Download Facebook data

You must use the Internet version of Facebook and not the mobile app to request your data. How it works:

  • Click on the small triangle at the top right corner of any Facebook page and select Settings
  • You should get into the General Settings view. If not, click General at the top of the left column.
  • At the bottom of the General Account Settings page, click Download a copy of your Facebook data . 19659010] Screenshot by Matt Elliott / CNET
    • Click on the button Start My Archive
    • Enter your password
    • Click in the window Request my download on Start My Archive to confirm your intentions

    Screenshot by Matt Elliott / CNET

    After submitting your request, you can sit back and wait for Facebook to email you a link to download your data. If you do not receive emails from Facebook, check your Facebook alerts. Either way, you will receive a link to download a ZIP file of your Facebook data.

    What's in your Facebook data

    It was somewhere between eye-opening and scary to see the information that Facebook had about me. I've been on Facebook for over a decade, but I'm not a strong user – much more of a lover than Sharer – and Facebook knew a lot about me.

    My data was organized into four folders: HTML, News, Photos, and Videos. In the HTML folder, the ad file was enlightening; It showed the topics Facebook interests me, along with all the ads I've clicked on, and a long list of advertisers who have my contact information. Likewise, the apps file showed an insanely long list of apps that I was allowed to access my Facebook account. The timeline file contained a copy of my entire timeline activity, and the message file contained all of my Facebook Messenger conversations.

    The message folder now contained copies of each messenger conversation. The friend file was interesting because not only the full list of my Facebook friends is shown, but also the date I made friends with them.

    Finally, the photos and videos folders had copies of all the photos and videos I shared on Facebook. There were also photos and video files in the html folder, each of which opened a web page where I could easily scan the photos or videos I posted on Facebook, along with the comments I'd collected.

    Read more: How to delete your Facebook account once and for all


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