If you can’t bring yourself to delete your Facebook account entirely, you’re probably thinking about sharing a lot less private information on the site. The company actually makes it pretty easy to find out how much data it’s collected from you, but the results might be a little scary.
When software developer Dylan McKay went and downloaded all of his data from Facebook, he was shocked to find that the social network had timestamps on every phone call and SMS message he made in the past few years, even though he says doesn’t use the app for calls or texts. It even created a log of every call between McKay and his partner’s mum.
Downloaded my facebook data as a ZIP file
Somehow it has my entire call history with my partner’s mum pic.twitter.com/CIRUguf4vD
— Dylan McKay (@dylanmckaynz) March 21, 2018
To get your own data dump, head to your Facebook Settings and click on “Download a copy of your data” at the bottom of the page. Facebook needs a little time to compile all that information, but it should be ready in about 10 minutes based on my own experience. You’ll receive a notification sending you to a page where you can download the data – after re-entering your account password, of course.
The (likely huge) file downloads onto your computer as a ZIP. Once you extract it, open the new folder and click on the “index.html” to view the data in your browser.
Be sure to check out the Contact Info tab for a list of everyone you’ve ever known and their phone number (creepy, Facebook). You can also scroll down to the bottom of the Friends tab so see what phase of your life Facebook thinks you’re in – I got “Starting Adult Life”.
I’ve written a script to dump all cell records in the ZIP file and print statistics
Here is what it shows on my profile, pretty chilling
— Dylan McKay (@dylanmckaynz) March 22, 2018
McKay also set up a script on Github to analyse the data for you, but even with the included instructions it isn’t the most user-friendly tool if you aren’t already a competent coder. You’re probably better off just sifting through the data yourself – a fun weekend project, no?
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