Quitting Facebook Part 1 – Data

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

quitting facebook

I recently wrote about some of the reasons I was thinking of quitting facebook.

Well, I did!

This is the first in a four part series covering my experience of opting-out of the world’s biggest social networking site after 6 years of membership and almost 1600 status updates.

Funny enough, after I’d written the post about quitting, making the decision was easy. It was something I’d been contemplating for a long time, so it suddenly seemed obvious that quitting was exactly what I needed to do.

What didn’t seem so easy was my actual exit plan.

In the 6 years since I joined facebook I had bought a house, got engaged, got married and had two children. All the emotional ups and downs, and frustrations and rewards of these events are catalogued in my status updates, along with encouragement, support and laughter from my closest friends.

I couldn’t just delete that information – I had to extract it somehow for my own records. But how?

Well, it turns out there is a very simple way to request your facebook data (status updates, photos, videos and messages are all included, but your comments on other people’s pages are not):

Go to Account Settings from the gear icon menu on the top right.

At the bottom of the list of settings there is a small link that says Download a copy of your facebook data.

Click on it, enter your password, and wait.

It takes them a while (several hours), to create a downloadable archive of all your information and you get a notification email when they are done.

When I downloaded the archive I was initially pleased – everything is laid out in web page format, just like a basic facebook, but it’s all on your own computer.

However, a closer look revealed that 9 months of 2012 statuses were totally absent. Not only that, but I *think* that some of my early updates from 2007-08 were missing.

Facebook has no real support, so to obtain the data from 2012 I expanded that year on my facebook page to include all stories, and then expanded all the comments too (yes, this took ages). Then I saved the entire web page by right clicking in Chrome and selecting Save As.

There wasn’t anything I could do about 2007-08. I guess that they may have irreversibly cut down those early years to just highlights (to save space?), or lost them in a system update, but either way I didn’t feel that I’d lost too much, as I could only remember a couple of things that were missing.

I now have all my statuses and all comments saved in html format on my local drive (and backed up to a remote location, of course 😉 ).

After finally getting all of my data out of facebook, I went through by hand and manually deleted everything from their website (yes, this took even longer).

I don’t 100% trust that a request to delete my account would really delete everything (I’m kinda paranoid like that).

Once my data was all out, I announced I was leaving.

I talk a bit more about the data I saved and it’s significance in Part 3, but next up is Part 2: the social aspect of leaving Facebook.

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