It’s Easy! Accessing and Downloading Your Online Social Life

Facebook password
By Jennifer Burns

Let’s face it, practically everyone you know has a Facebook account and a lot of us have proudly, and some egotistically, been sharing our lives on Facebook for years now. Years, I tell you! Some even since FB’s origination back in 2004. (Goodness, that’s SEVEN years of life on Facebook).

I have so many memories, comments, pictures, messages, and not to mention inside jokes, events, and even status updates that I want to look back on some day.  (Of course there are some I could pass on ever seeing again.) And all of them exist on Facebook only, right?

Well, for those Facebook-lifers, there is now a feature inside of Facebook that hasn’t seen much publicity yet that’s called “Download your Information.” (Very creative feature name, don’t you think?)

If you decide to download your social life, you’ll get: (Source: Facebook.com/help)

  • Your profile information (e.g., your contact information, interests, groups)
  • Wall posts and content that you and your friends have posted to your profile
  •  Photos and videos that you have uploaded to your account
  •  Your friend list
  •  Notes you have created
  •  Events to which you have RSVP’d
  •  Your sent and received messages
  •  Any comments that you and your friends have made on your Wall posts, photos, and other profile content

Just in case the world ends, or uh, Facebook shuts its doors tomorrow, I decided to download all of my information. So, I took a deep breath and hit the big ol’ download button. And this screen popped up:

I was notified that my request was pending as they needed to “generate,” or rather gather, my information for downloading.

Your Download is Ready


Not expecting a rapid response, I surprisingly received an email to download the file the same afternoon. As soon as my Facebook life was available to collect in one snazzy, compressed file, I hurried to download it.

After verifying the link was safe, I clicked on it like an overly excited kid. (And when I say overexcited—I’m talking the kind of excitement when you get to buy a gumball and watch it roll down the pinball machine track at the store—but instead, I was eager to see years of my young-er life in a teeny beige file folder. How times change.

The link brought me to my FB login page and through one more password hurdle after that to verify it’s really, really me and not some panda-hat-wearing-robot.

I opened the file with my name to find four different options:

  • An HTML folder
  • A photo folder
  • Read me
  • Text file

Of course, I first clicked on the photos one and found all the images I had uploaded to Facebook over the years. Mind you, these did not include photos I was tagged in or those that others may have uploaded to my Facebook wall.

Then I clicked on the HTML folder. These files are linked to a separate browser window and this is where you will find things like:

  • Your Facebook messages and wall
  • Your friends list (Do you have over 800 real friends?)
  • Any groups or events you participated in

I suddenly felt relieved to have an electronic version of this social life sitting on my desktop, but was most relieved to have a folder of my Facebook photos . Over the past few years, I have been meaning to download each and every photo off of Facebook, but I just never found the time. I have to admit, the availability of a download made me feel a little more comfortable about using Facebook in the future.

Because I’m old fashioned, and maybe paranoid, I saved the file to my external HD, burned it to a disc, saved it to a thumb drive, made some print outs, got a few permanent tattoos…Ok, I’m being silly, they were temporary tattoos.

The best option for securing these, however, is uploading to a place like the cloud. (Now, you’re thinking, what? How is THAT secure?) Some of you may even be wondering what the cloud really is. Well, after Apple announced iCloud, it wasn’t a mystery for much longer but the concept of Cloud is nothing new.

So, What is the Cloud?


Essentially, cloud is an off-your-machine holding place. The cloud is cool, light and fast, off the ground and up, up and away from heavy, over-heating physical devices. And because the cloud is Internet-based, any device with Internet capabilities, can access the cloud.

Think of it this way, Facebook acted as a “cloud” by holding my photos and my social life. By uploading my data to the cloud, I guarantee an electronic copy is somewhere safe in case my machine crashes, is stolen, or even if it needs to be accessed through my mobile device.

With the growing number of threats around your data and privacy, Facebook may soon lose its appeal. But until then, my pictures of toga partie—ah, I mean philanthropic events—will just have to stay in the Face-cloud, in the SecureCloud, and on my machine.


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