I’m Careful, Really I Am
I ‘ve known for years that with Facebook, I ‘m not the customer, I ‘m the product. I keep my profile private except to friends. I do n’t post a lot in my visible visibility, and not all of what I display is truthful. For case, while it ‘s genuine that I studied Existentialism in college, I ‘m not actually a Pastafarian ; I have not been “ touched by his noodly process. ” I never wildly click links that seem fishy. And I maintain a security cortege that warns if a dangerous liaison gets past my radar .
I never play Facebook games ; you ‘d be surprised, or appalled, at how much data games can gather. I had to silence one class extremity because of a Farmville report that kept pinging me to come shimmer. I ‘ve been known to try some airheaded quizzes, but only the ones that ask you questions to figure out, say, which Game of Thrones character will kill you. even then, the questions better not be the kind of thing that might answer your security questions. Those quizzes that offer to scan your Facebook data and give you a result ? Those are poison ! I do n’t touch them .
I never use Facebook ( or my e-mail bill ) to log into websites. Doing so makes your Facebook password a individual point of failure. One exposure and all your accounts are wide open. rather, I use a password coach to create impregnable, singular passwords for every site.
But being careful myself is n’t enough. haphazard security system on the part of my friends can potentially make some of my information public. So I tightened up my settings to keep Facebook from sharing my data. I went all-out, choosing the option to wholly disable the share platform. Facebook offered awful warnings about how doing so would disable my apps, and keep me from logging in using my Facebook credentials. I smiled and went ahead. now I ‘m ticket, right ? Well, possibly .
Download Your Archive
These days, it ‘s easy to download an archive of all the datum Facebook has on you. ( At least, they say it ‘s everything… ) well, it ‘s reasonably easy. You do have to go through several steps, which are in put to prevent person else from stealing your archive. here ‘s how I did it, and how you can get your own archive .
Log into Facebook, click the down-triangle icon at top right, and choose Settings.
On the General Settings page, click the last item, the link to download a copy of your data.
Facebook warns that collecting data may take a while. Click Start My Archive.
On the next page, click Start My Archive again, and wait for a notification that it’s done.
Download your Facebook archive.
note that you ‘ll have to supply your Facebook password twice during this process, because this is sensitive information. Facebook besides warns that you should protect the download datum, as it contains sensitive material. Your best bet would be to encrypt the data when you ‘re not actively studying it .
No Surprises, to Start
once you unzip the download archive, you ‘ll find you have a folder containing a file INDEX.HTM plus folders named hypertext markup language, messages, photos, and videos. Ignore the folders for now ; precisely launch INDEX.HTM and start explore .
You start at the Profile page, with general information about you and your Facebook score. This includes the claim moment you started with Facebook ( Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 8:15 ante meridiem PDT in my sheath ) arsenic well as your address ( if you entered it ), birthday, sex, hometown, and indeed on. It does n’t distinguish between populace details and those you ‘ve made individual .
My archive besides lists everyone I ‘ve identified as kin members, all three twelve of them. family connections are a big part of what keeps me on Facebook. The lists of Music, Books, Movies, Restaurants, and Websites I ‘ve liked are abruptly ; I do n’t tend to give likes in those areas. But the list of other likes is more concern. apparently, I ‘ve liked more than 60 pages, ranging from Notorious RBG to Thic Nhat Hanh to ‘The Official Petition to Establish “ Hella- ” as the SI Prefix for 10^27. ‘ At least Facebook does n’t have a hellabyte of data on me …
This foliate besides lists all the Groups I belong to. It ‘s a bigger tilt than I expected, by and large because at least half of them have n’t had any bodily process for years. I ‘m not sure there ‘s any benefit in actively disengaging from moribund groups, though .
Friends and Not-Friends
Clicking the Friends link got me a tilt of all my Facebook friends, sorted from newest to oldest. No surprise there ! But scrolling down further, I found a fortune more. It besides lists : Sent Friend Requests, Received Friend Requests, Declined Friend Requests, and Removed Friends. That ‘s right. Facebook knows everybody you ‘ve unfriended, and ever friend request you ‘ve denied, or ignored .
I dumped the tilt into Excel for analysis, because that ‘s what I do. I found that respective twelve of the entries appear in more than one category, and that some of these duplicates seem to tell a story. Some years ago, I purged my friends list down to something manageable, but belated added some of the purge folks back. And there they are—Removed Friends, but late, Friends. Others were haunting folks, Declined Friend Request followed late by Received Friend Request ( which I ignored ) .
possibly the most matter to class involve people who showed up in the Received Friend Request list and no early. That means I received the request and just ignored it, without actively declining. I confess to friend-request overload. And after ignoring requests for a while, it gets tough to actively go through and decline the unwanted ones. To the 70 people in that category—sorry !
At the chase end of the list, I found a couple other minor categories. I have precisely one Followee, meaning there ‘s one semi-public figure that I follow without actually being FB friends. You may have more. Facebook ‘s analysis of my acquaintance collection places me in the Friend Peer Group called “ Established Adult Life. ” Why ? possibly for advertise ?
The Friends page makes common sense, though it includes more information than I thought it would. But the Contact Info page wholly mystifies me. It lists hundreds of people, in no apparent arrange, along with one, two, or three call numbers. Who are these people, and where did they come from ? The tilt tied includes entries for people nobelium longer exist, some of them deceased before I ever joined Facebook .
I dumped this list into Excel american samoa good, and checked off any that I might have actually called on the call. That accounts for good 10 percentage of the number. About 6 percentage of the contacts appear twice, most with the like call number. Almost all of the names seem at least vaguely familiar, but not through Facebook .
For a sanity check, I used an Excel convention to flag every name from my Friends list that besides appears in the Contacts list. That accounts for 11 percentage of my friends. Looking the other direction, because there are more Contacts than Friends, just 6.5 percentage of my Contacts match the Friends list .
I do n’t know for certain how Facebook got this list of contacts and their phone numbers. I must have given it license to see my contacts on some chopine, but even then, I by and large keep electronic mail addresses ( notably absent from this list ), not phone numbers. It ‘s a bewilderment !
My Whole Timeline at a Glance
At first, I was unimpressed with the page reached by clicking Timeline. Like many, I frequently post an image with a snarky comment. The Timeline view skips the images, and the snarky comments alone do n’t make sense. then I hit Ctrl+End, to go to the end of the page. Wow !
Every stake I ever made on Facebook is here in the timeline. I do n’t know if it ‘s tied possible to go this far back within the Facebook user interface. If it were potential, it would take hours, possibly days, of scrolling down, down, polish. I found the closely ten-year-old posts fascinating. The post “ feel chilled after biking 10 miles in the rain Sunday to watch the Amgen riders start the first gear 100-mile ride ” reminded me of the thrill of watching the possibility of the first gear Amgen Tour of California bicycle race. And I was proud to remember my grow daughter ‘s high-school success, Grand Prize in a regional animation contest .
even in this commodious one-long-page form, paging through the stallion Timeline would be excessively much to handle. But if you want to check just when a certain event happened, an event you posted on Facebook, you can well search the page for details. In effect, it ‘s an index for your integral Facebook history. What an unexpected gem this is .
Every Photo, Awkwardly
Clicking Photos gets you a like list, a timeline of every photograph or album you ever posted. It includes the date for albums, and any comments, but not the text you shared along with the album. When you click through to the person photograph, you do n’t see the dates, unless the photograph itself has comments. Facebook reports a raft of ( to me ) otiose information. Camera make and model. Orientation, width, and height. F-stop, ISO, and focal length. In my oldest photograph, these are all the more useless because they ‘re frequently either blank or nothing. I could n’t figure out why some iPhone photos include a modicum of information, while others get nothing .
Some photos appear automatically in predefined folders such as Mobile Photos, Timeline Photos, and Profile Pictures. As with photos in your handcraft folders, these display the non-useful television camera data, followed by any comments. Any post that went along with the photograph does n’t appear, nor is there any indication of a date, unless in the comments .
For a few photograph, Facebook provides a link titled Facial Recognition Data. Clicking the link brings up a set of incomprehensible numbers and natural datum. The fact that all of these were photos of Halloween pumpkins does n’t inspire confidence .
In my position, Facebook could handle this a batch better. Suppress the camera data except when requested. Include the go steady for any photograph. And when I snap a photograph and post it, include the text of the post with the photograph .
Clicking Videos, as expected, gets a list of all the video you ‘ve posted, from newest to oldest, with a 284 by 160 pixel thumbnail. You besides get the video ‘s date and fourth dimension, and any comments. When I clicked on a television, though, I got a storm .
The Facebook archive stores videos as 400 by 224 MP4 files ; it does n’t link to the life-size television that you posted. When I launched one of those, I found that the healthy worked very well, but the video itself good showed shifting bands of color. I tried a six video, and the lapp thing happened with all of them .
That was under Firefox. When I opened the lapp page in Chrome or Edge, the video recording played back equitable all right. Internet Explorer did n’t try internal playback, but rather suggested opening the video in the Movies & TV app. Movie & television blew the video recording astir to full screen, making it bleary, but it worked. I ‘m not certain what the trouble is with Firefox, but there are plenty of early browsers for viewing your archive .
What if your real cheer is to find the all-out original video that you uploaded ? You ca n’t get there directly from the archive, but it can be a help. Check the date under the hope television, then open the list of videos correctly in your Facebook account on-line. Make a guess as to how far you should scroll down. Click a video recording and check the date in the post that appears. Scroll up or polish adenine necessary to bracket the hope date. It ‘s not ideal, but besides not besides difficult.
Ads and More Ads
Facebook exists to tempt you and other users with ads. Every prison term you click an ad, that ‘s another data orient for your profile. The first thing you see when you click the Ads link is a list of all the topics Facebook thinks interest you. In my case, the list runs to more than five twelve items. Some make sense : chocolate, California, calculator security, net security system, journalism, Alejandro Jodorowsky. Others have me head-scratching, things like body of water, landform, watermelon, and Order of Interbeing ( what ? ). But those are the topics that inform just what ads Facebook inflicts on my feed .
More concern is the postdate section, Ads History. This is just a list of ads and sponsor posts you ‘ve clicked on recently. I ‘m not sure of the clock period ; the oldest one in my feed is from about seven weeks ago. It could besides be a repair number of the most late ad-clicks. In my archive the entire count lists comes out at the suspiciously circle number 100. Yes, I confess, I clicked 100 ads. To be fair, I avoid clicking unsupported “ patronize posts, ” but I do sometimes click ads shared by friends .
At the very conclusion, the archive lists “ Advertisers with your contact information, ” eight of them, in my encase. I recognize most of them, though I ‘m not indisputable how they got my reach information, or what it means that they did. But a couple are completely unfamiliar. I ‘m very measuredly not Googling these, figuring that doing sol might just give The Watchers more information .
A Mess of Messages
not amazingly, Facebook keeps a record of every conversation you hold using Facebook Messenger. All those conversations show up when you click Messages. And the result page is about wholly useless .
In my archive, there is a tilt of about 200 names and name-groups, in no discernible ordering. To see a conversation, you click the name. Quite a few have no conversations associated with them at all. Others are attempts at Messenger chat from people I do n’t know. There ‘s no way to tell if a given identify or group leads to an actual conversation .
Checking on names where I know I have a Messenger history, I found that indeed it lists every rally, back to the identical foremost. The messages show up in reverse chronological order, so to read a individual conversation, you must scan the date/time stamps to find the initiate message and then read from bottom to top. What a mess ! And if you remember that you had a conversation on a certain subject, but forget who you were chatting with, forget about it. There ‘s no way to search except by opening every list and search .
Facebook, this could be so much better ! Give us a list of names, yes, but show the numeral of messages associated with each. Let us sort by name or by number of messages. When we open the list of messages for a given person, show them in oldest-to-newest rate, and use some ocular cue to show the start of each modern conversation. ultimately, let us search across all messages. nowadays that would be a useful list of messages !
Events and Pokes
I ‘m certain you ‘ve received invitations to plenty of events via Facebook. If I get an invitation to a sincerely personal happen, I make a bespeak of actively choosing accept or descent. But if I ‘m equitable not concerned, possibly because the event is impossibly distant, or sounds boring, I do n’t normally do anything. storm ! The Events page lists every consequence invitation you ever received, even those that you wholly ignored. I do n’t see a bunch of value in this list, but it seems harmless .
alike both useless and harmless is the list of pokes. Who pokes anybody these days ?
I figured that clicking Security would show my Facebook Security settings, possibly with a history of changes. Boy, was I incorrectly !
This page starts with a confuse number of active Sessions. It listed 17 active sessions, one ( correctly ) identified as Facebook for iPad and 16 marked Unknown. Who knows what to make of that ?
The following list of Account Activity proved even more dense. A apparently endless list of entries reports, in painful detail, on events like Session updated ( these are the huge majority, for me ), Web Session Terminated, and Login. The one slightly interesting entry accurately reported the date and clock of the last password change. These entries merely go back about two years .
adjacent up is a list of Recognized Machines, including entries for two iPads and two iPhones. Which ones ? I ‘ve had several. The date/time stamps were no serve ; all four say they were created December 31, 1969 at 4:00 post meridiem PST. That date seems improbable. none of the last-modified dates are newer than 2014, and the entries include no identify device information, beyond the IP address .
I found fiddling use for a list of logins and logouts during the previous year. A list of Login Protection Data reveals cookies and IP addresses used or updated in the end year. The list ends with estimated locations based on IP addresses, just childlike decimal latitude and longitude, with no connection to a function scene .
At the identical, identical end is a unretentive department that might be utilitarian to some. The administrative Records section lists things like changes to your password, changes to your security answers, and something called “ Checkpoint completed. ”
indeed, OK, it ‘s dependable that Facebook keeps painfully detailed information about your logins and devices. You can look at it until your eyes crossbreed. A security expert might dump this datum to detect possible hack, but the modal consumer will find little of sake .
Things I Didn’t Know Facebook Knew
Before my late experiment, I had n’t truly thought about what-all data Facebook keeps about me. clearly, it has to retain my posts and pics, and I know it uses some techniques to decide which ads it ‘ll show. Downloading and paging through my Facebook archive was a substantial eye-opener. I ran into real surprises, some positive, some damaging, some just…surprising .
The Timeline archive can be a fantastic index for your entire Facebook history. It’s well-nigh impossible to scroll back a few years in your live Facebook feed, but in the archive, you can easily search the entire timeline.
Facebook doesn’t just know my friends. It knows everyone who’s asked to be a friend, even if I ignored the request. It knows everyone I’ve unfriended, and every friend request I’ve rejected. Maybe that’s not so bad, but I was surprised.
The archive’s list of videos displays nicely from newest to oldest, with a date/time stamp for each video. But you don’t get to see the actual post, the video displays in a tiny rectangle, and it seems not to work in Firefox.
Some items in Facebook’s list of “my” ad topics make sense; others seem off the wall. The revelation that I’ve clicked 100 ads in less than two months is an eye-opener.
Something I did, at some past time, gave Facebook permission to grab all kinds of unrelated contact info. Weirdly, it only shows phone numbers, even though I’ve never called 90 percent of those people, and a fair number of them are dead. Unsettling.
Your archive lists everyone with whom you’ve ever chatted using Messenger, which sounds like it would be handy. But the information is disorganized and hard to follow, and there’s no way to search your messages.
If you have n’t yet done it, scroll binding to the crown of this article and follow the instructions to download your own archive. page through it, think about it, do your best to get past the ill designed parts. The archive is n’t just testify for you of what Facebook has on you. You can besides make it a utilitarian resource, assuming it does n’t inspire you to plainly delete Facebook .
Presuming you ‘re keeping Facebook, I powerfully advise that you bite the bullet and disable the chopine that lets Facebook plowshare your data. Yes, that means you give up your games and apps, those nasty little spies. And you must log in to websites using alone passwords. But these are good things ! With these precautions, you can keep using Facebook and still keep ( most of ) your privacy .
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