I’ve been reading about changes Facebook wants to make to Instagram via smartphones. Instead of leaving it alone, they want to merge it with both Messenger and WhatsApp, two apps I’ve never wanted on my phone. I also eliminated Facebook from my phone as soon as I bought it. I’m stuck with Google tracking me (since I’m on Android), but that’s as far as I’m allowing it.
face and book
Luckily, some time ago I downloaded all my images from Instagram. I actually did that shortly after my computer crashed back in 2018, but I didn’t do the same from Facebook. I’ve been on the site just over 12 years, and I’ve uploaded lots of pictures there that didn’t originate from Instagram. Many include family members that most of them had never seen. I lost a lot of those images, like from Instagram, in the big crash of 2018. This set me on a journey towards discovery… and the last thing I discovered was stunning! Stick around…
I went on a web search to find out if it was possible to get all my images. Turns out the answer is “yes”! I saw that Facebook had listed the process for getting it done. I’m going to walk you quickly through it by sharing images of the pages you need to go to.
Let me preface this by saying that my Facebook pages will look different than yours do. If you want to know how I did it, first check out this post on something called Stylish, where I introduce userstyles.org, then check out this post introducing Stylus, which has replaced Stylish in the latest version of Firefox; both of these will put you on the correct path.
The first thing you do is go into your settings page. Up there at the top you see something telling you to click on the link to go to the page to set up downloading your information.
Once you get to this page, you’re going to click on view on the second line to take you where you want to go to get your stuff. As you see here, you can get a lot of other things, including delete your Facebook account. If you’re thinking about doing that, download your stuff first.
This is the page where you can select all the things you want to download from your Facebook page; this is only a sample. Initially everything’s checked by default. Unless you want a monster file, you might want to deselect all and pick what you actually want.
As I mentioned, I wanted all my images. However, I took a look at everything that was being offered and decided to request a few more things. Two of those things were all the people I’m connected to as friends, and all the people who are following me… who aren’t friends. That was an option from a long time ago, which I’m not sure they still have, but it allowed people to follow you without your actually having a say about it. It’s a major reason why my privacy settings are so strong now, and why I erased a couple of lines in the first Facebook image.
The final thing I requested was a list of all the companies that have shared my information with other companies on Facebook. I didn’t even know that was a thing; I’d never thought about it. I wanted to know what it contained; curiously you know. 🙂
The final thing you do is hit the “create file” button… then you pretty much wait for your file to be compiled. I’ve been on Facebook 10 years as I said, and I’ve put up lots of pictures. I was expecting a big file, which means I had no idea how long the process would take. I went to bed a few hours later, waiting to see how I’d find out what was going on.
The next morning I had an email from Facebook telling me my file was ready. There was a link I had to click to get it, which is a good thing because they have you verify your email and password. It turns out my zip file was 1.1GB; ouch! Luckily, you download it from Facebook’s servers. I’ve got 1GB download (thanks FiOS!), so it went pretty fast.
I opened the file and saw how they compile all the information. If you created albums, you’ll have folders with the album names. If you sent photos over from Instagram, those are labeled also. The photos are exact copies of whatever you uploaded; if they were big originally, they’re still big. I got all my photos; yay!
Everything else you get will be a HTML link. I took a quick look at all the things I kind of knew already, then I opened the folder containing the link for ads. There are 3 categories: ads interest, which is what Facebook supposes are things you like; advertisers you’ve interacted with, which supposedly shows links you’ve clicked on (none of mine were true, even if they were from other sites); advertisers who’ve uploaded a contact list with your information.
That last one stunned me; once again, I’d never thought of this being a “thing”. It was also the largest file of the three, so obviously I was curious and opened it. Below is a very small portion of it:
As I said, this is a small portion; there are over a thousand of these companies, very few that I’ve ever heard of. Of the above, the only one I actually know is 20th Century Fox; it’s interesting that they’ve uploaded information on me. Very few of these are even in New York, where I live; who the heck are all these people and how did they all get any kind of information on me? :-O
It’s freaky and slightly unnerving. I’ve always had privacy settings on Facebook, but I realize all this information didn’t come from Facebook. This is why I use Firefox now and, hopefully, block a lot of information from leaving my computer via searches. There’s probably no way to be perfect, but this was definitely illuminating.
There you go; scary, right? You should think about downloading some of your information just to see what Facebook has on you. I’m now in the process of trying to get all my uploaded images from Instagram, but it takes 48 hours to process. It should be a straight up process, so I probably won’t write about it… unless it fails. Let’s hope it doesn’t! 🙂
Are you going to try to download your Facebook information?