Facebook’s New Download Your Information Feature: What You Get

Facebook recently announced a feature that lets users download a copy of their profile and content, and now it’s becoming available for some users. In a downloadable zip file, users get html files which include their entire profile, wall, Event history, messages, Notes, a list of their friends, . jpgs of their photos, and .mp4s of their videos, as well as an index file for navigating the content. The data can be used as a diary, or  to replace other information from a hard drive crash or stolen computer — but not necessarily to switch to a different social network.

Downloading the Zip File of Your Information

To access the Download Your Information feature, go to Account->Account Settings->Download Your Information and click “learn more”. Users are then shown a description of what their download will include, a security warning, and a privacy warning stating that the file will contain sensitive information and that users should “take precautions when storing, sending or uploading it to any other services.”


Once users click “Download”, the button will change to read “Pending” and users are informed that they will receive a download link via email. For users with a lot of content, the wait can be several hours. Users will eventually receive a “Your download is ready” email from Facebook containing a link back to the Download Your Information page. Users are prompted to re-enter their password and possibly complete other security tests before being allowed to initiate the download of the zip file, which comes from a “bigzipfiles.facebook.com” URL.

Download Your Information Zip File Contents

Once downloaded, unzipped and opened, users will see folders of HTML files, photos, videos, a README.txt stating when the file was downloaded and by who (this info is appended to the bottom of each html page), and an index.html file. Inside the folders are the following parts of a user’s profile, which can be opened separately or navigated through the index:

HTML Folder

Profile

A complete read-out of a user’s profile including basic information, Facebook profile URL, contact information, profile picture, relationships, education and work info, Likes and interests, and Groups (including secret Groups) of which the user is a member.

Wall

A reverse chronological read-out of all wall posts and content uploaded by the user or their friends to the user’s profile, including status updates. Links are active and show the thumbnail and blurb of sites, but embedded content such as YouTube videos or mp3s will appear as external links. Photos and videos posted to the wall, including content the user is tagged in, link locally to the downloaded folders containing that content. Users can see Likes and comments to any wall post.

Friends

A text-only list of all of a user’s current friends, sorted alphabetically by first name. Names are not linked and contain no additional information, such as email addresses or phone numbers. Only a user’s current friends appear.

Notes

All of the Notes a user has created, including embedded photos and links. Comments are included below each Note, but Likes are absent. Notes a user is tagged in are not included.

Events

Event details and descriptions of every Event a user has RSVP’d to as “Attending” or “Maybe”. Each listing links to the original Facebook Event page. Event images, wall posts, guest lists, secondary hosts, privacy settings, personal invite messages, and a user’s own RSVP are not included, but can be viewed on the Event page.

Messages

A threaded read-out of all of a user’s sent and received messages, sorted reverse chronologically by the send date of the latest message in the thread. Attached content is shown as links.

Photos

Separate html files for each of a user’s photo albums, with profile pictures and photos a user is tagged in compiled into a “Profile Pictures” album. Each photo displays its caption, associated tags, and comments, but not Likes. Each photo in the album links locally to the corresponding downloaded photo.

Videos

All of the videos a user has uploaded. Videos a user is tagged in do not appear. Videos can be played within the html file as they link locally to the downloaded videos. Each video is accompanied by its title, tags and comments, but not Likes.

Photos Folder

The “photos” folder contains folders for each of a user’s albums. Within each album folder are .jpg image files of each photo from the album. Photos without captions are named with a long string of numbers corresponding to the album, causing them to be grouped by album when sorted by name. Photos with captions are named as the first 50 characters of the caption.

Videos Folder

The “videos” folder contains video files of all the videos a user has uploaded. Videos come back as .mp4 files regardless of the format in which they were uploaded.

What’s Not Included

The following types of content are absent from the download:

  • Contact info of friends
  • A list of installed applications or any content from within those applications
  • A list of Pages a user is an admin of, or any content from within those Pages
  • Groups content
  • Facebook Questions data, such as a user’s asked or answered questions

At the launch event for the feature, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained that users wouldn’t be able to download contact information of friends because “what we’re focusing on…is your information, stuff that you put into the site, you should be able to take out. Not your friends’ information, because that’s not your information.” However, Facebook says it will be gathering feedback on the feature, and it will improve over future iterations.

Conclusion

Users wishing to preserve the memories they have created on Facebook will enjoy the new-found ability to download a history of their content. While the ability to download phone numbers, email addresses, and other contact information of friends would be useful, the capability would also open the feature to abuse. For instance, spammers could try to buy or steal a user’s Facebook information file.

What’s unfortunate is the lack of Likes on photos, videos, and Notes. Facebook has created a great system of distinguishing a user’s most compelling content, but has stripped it from much of the downloadable content. Many might enjoy the ability to see, or even sort by which of their photos received the most Likes.

The data in the file is designed for use by humans, and it may be difficult for users to use Download Your Information to migrate to a different social network. Still, the feature should help dispel the perception of Facebook as a company seeking to monopolize control of online identity. The questions remains whether third-parties will develop apps that use the data.

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Leave a Reply

29 Responses to “Facebook’s New Download Your Information Feature: What You Get”

  1. Kyotoweb says:

    “Ripping people has never been made so easy” (c) Facebook

  2. Rob says:

    Has Facebook indicated when this will roll out to everyone? I don’t have the option to download as yet… :)

  3. Guest says:

    I bet it still won’t get everything. I have wall posts from 2005 that don’t show up for cripes sake. Their engineers are idiots. Not to mention the dates on my photos and notes keep changing when I have not modified them.

  4. Ryan Fagg says:

    With average sized zip files in the hundreds of MB, global internet response times worldwide have started to lay an obvious timeline as to when the roll out began. Just over 24 hours ago, average global packet loss increased by nearly 20% while the maximum global packet loss increased by a whopping 100%. Maybe it’s not facebook at all. maybe.

  5. hilar-ie says:

    It didn’t work! Tried it four times, got to the pending stage, rec’d email, clicked on link, entered password, answered security questions (identified friends in tagged photos – correctly!) and then a blank page that said ‘done’. No information has been downloaded. Mozilla firefox browser user…

  6. scott says:

    I still do not have the option yet, does anyone have an idea when this will be available?

  7. Nate says:

    I clicked the download button…and it says pending…and it’s been two days as of now and still no email yet…i do have alot of videos…but should it take THAT long??

  8. A says:

    Nate, it shouldn’t take that long. It should only take a few hours at the most. Mine took about an hour-and-a-half.

  9. Jam says:

    The download worked for me, but for the most part, any comments on my status updates are not there, except for a few of them. I thought that would show up as well….??

  10. L says:

    Those of you who have managed to download it, have you been able to see all messages including old & deleted ones? I haven’t.
    Why’s this? It says on the description that it downloads ALL messages that have EVER been sent and received on fb.

    Thanks.

  11. Tony Siino says:

    My wall backup is incomplete…

  12. S says:

    I did the download today and I thought, like L said, that all messages were to be downloaded: sent, received and deleted but the only messages that came in were from my inbox.

  13. Oliver Slay says:

    I did the download but after examining the Messages I deleted the zip…

    For each conversation I received only one message – the first message in the conversation.

    The date on the message was not correct.

    It was the date of the last message from the other party minus 8 hours (I’m in the UK).

    It really doesn’t take that much to program a reporting function correctly… (not for a programmer anyway…) Shoddy stuff…

    I’m gonna wait until they sort it out… I really wanted to download all my messages so I could clear out my inbox… I had been copying the conversations one by one and deleting them up to now…

  14. Gibson says:

    Please tell facebook to include links and comments posted on friends’ walls.

    Also, make it fair by letting people who were disabled to retrieve their data at least.

  15. Bob says:

    Those of you who have managed to download it, have you been able to see all messages including old & deleted ones? I haven’t.
    Why’s this? It says on the description that it downloads ALL messages that have EVER been sent and received on fb.

    Thanks.

  16. Facebook- Convert Personal Profiles Into Business Pages | Peter Lang - Social Media Strategies - California says:

    [...] connections will be disconnected so please backup your profiles. I recommend using Facebook’s Download Your Information [...]

  17. TechMissus » Facebook permet aux utilisateurs de transformer leur compte en une page de fan says:

    [...] la propriété de Facebook). Les publications aussi disparaitront. D’ou l’importance de sauvegarder vos données avant de lancer cette [...]

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    [...] severed. So! Anyone using the ‘migration tool’ should consider using Facebook’s Download Your Information tool first to back up their content. It appears that users with less than 100 friends can rename [...]

  19. Cómo convertir tu perfil en página de Facebook sin perder amigos | ReadWriteWeb España says:

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  20. ை Cómo convertir tu perfil en página de Facebook sin perder amigos « La web oficial de Il canalla Rubens. Lemas: Pray for Japan, NO mas violencia de genero, No a la guerra, NO al cierre de TeleVigo says:

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    [...] will be severed. Therefore, anyone using the migration tool should consider using Facebook’s Download Your Information tool first to back up their content. It appears that users with less than 100 friends can rename [...]

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    [...] suas informações pessoais antes de migrar o perfil, e isso pode ser feito por meio da ferramenta Download Your Information do [...]

  23. KB-Marketing | Konverter din Facebook profil til en virksomhedsprofil says:

    [...] Facebook har oprettet et “Help Center article on converting profiles to Pages“, hvor du kan finde svar på de mest almene spørgsmål. I guiden står der bl.a. at profilbilledet samt vennerne vil blive overført, når man konvertere. Til gengæld bliver alt indholdet ikke overført. Herunder billeder, information og meget mere. Det kan man dog løse ved at downloade alle profilens oplysninger og billeder vha. Facebooks “Download Your Information“-funktion. [...]

  24. Conozca la nueva aplicación de Facebook que convierte su perfil en un sitio de negocios « Biendateao says:

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  25. Facebook permite transformar los perfiles en sitios de negocios | Trazacomex - Comercio Internacional says:

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  26. Three Key Developments at Facebook – The Buzz Bin says:

    [...] wall posts and “Like” connections to other Pages. Facebook recommends that you use their Download Your Information tool first to back up your content. Facebook has not formally announced the conversion from [...]

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    [...] Bonne nouvelle, facebook a proposé récemment un outil permettant de passer d’un profil à une page ! A priori vous conserverez vos amis et vos publications. Vos amis seront transformés en fans de la page, mais attention il est conseillé de faire une sauvegarde avant. [...]

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    [...] antes de tomar la decisión. Para evitarlo siempre se puede utilizar la herramienta oficial de descarga de información de [...]

  29. Peter Lang - Social Media Strategies - California says:

    [...] connections will be disconnected so please backup your profiles. I recommend using Facebook’s Download Your Information [...]

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