How to request and download your Facebook data

Why you should consider downloading your Facebook data - and how to do it.

Facebook's business model is your data. That can be a problem.
Khloe Young-Neawedde

Editorial Intern, Don't Sell My Data campaign

If you use Facebook, it’s collecting data about you.

What data does Facebook collect?

Facebook collects data on just about everything you do on the site and app. It tracks every post you view, like and comment on, and how you interact with the ads it targets you with. Facebook makes the data available to third parties for targeted advertising, and for curating a feed designed to be as addictive as possible.

If you want to see the details about the data the company has on you, you can request a file containing the data attached to your account. This data can be very insightful and help you understand the way your Facebook feed operates based on all the data it’s collected about you. It can also give you a convenient way to download all your Facebook photos in one go.

How to download your Facebook data on a desktop

Before we begin, it’s worth noting Facebook changes the steps for how to download your data frequently. We’ll do our best to keep this guide updated. We last took a look in December 2023.

  1. Click on your profile picture in the top right hand corner of the page.

  2. Select Settings & privacy.
  3. Click Settings again. It’s the first thing in the list.

  4. As far as we can tell, there are two slightly different pages Facebook will take you to next. If your screen looks like the one below, you’re going to select Download your information.

  5. If “download your information” isn’t right there, you have version #2. Look at the lefthand column called Settings & privacy and scroll down inside that column until you see the subheading Your information. You’ll see Download your information under that – click that.
  6. Thankfully from there it’s the same again. Once you click Download your information, you’ll see this window. Select Request a download.
  7. If you have more than one Facebook account or profile, select which account you would like to request data for and click Next.
  8. Select what information you would like to download. You can choose certain types of data, like just your photos and messages, or a complete copy. We recommend downloading a complete copy so you can get the full view of how much info the app collects.

  9. Select the file options. Verify the email Facebook has on file is correct, then select what format you want to get your data in. Your options are JSON or HTML. In our experience, either are pretty user-friendly and readable by most devices. Select the media quality (how high quality you want the photos to be) and the date range. We recommend selecting All time. Hit save, and then click the blue Submit request button.

You should receive an email within 10 – 30 minutes with a file of your personal data to download. You only have 4 days to download it from that email. This file will have lots of information about you, so put it somewhere safe.

How to download your Facebook data on the app

  1. Click on your profile picture & menu option on the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
  2. Select Settings & privacy, then select Settings from the list of options.
  3. Scroll down to the section that says Your information, and then click Download your information.
  4. Click the Request a download button.

  5. If you have more than one Facebook account or profile, select which account you would like to request data for and click Next.
  6. Select what information you would like to download. You can choose certain types of data, like just your photos and messages, or a complete copy, which will provide you with all of your data. We recommend downloading a complete copy so you can get the full view of how much info the app collects.
  7. Select the file options. Verify the email Facebook has on file is correct, then select what format you want to get your data in. Your options are JSON or HTML. In our experience, either are pretty user-friendly and readable by most devices, but for most people HTML may be slightly more preferrable. Select the media quality (how high quality you want the photos to be) and the date range. We recommend selecting All time. Click the blue Submit request button.
  8. Finally, click Request a download.

You should receive an email within 10 – 30 minutes with a file of your personal data to download. You only have 4 days to download it from that email. This file will have lots of information about you, so put it somewhere safe. We bought a separate hard drive to keep all of our copies of data that we downloaded on.

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Topics
Authors

Khloe Young-Neawedde

Editorial Intern, Don't Sell My Data campaign

R.J. Cross

Director, Don't Sell My Data Campaign, PIRG

R.J. focuses on data privacy issues and the commercialization of personal data in the digital age. Her work ranges from consumer harms like scams and data breaches, to manipulative targeted advertising, to keeping kids safe online. In her work at Frontier Group, she has authored research reports on government transparency, predatory auto lending and consumer debt. Her work has appeared in WIRED magazine, CBS Mornings and USA Today, among other outlets. When she’s not protecting the public interest, she is an avid reader, fiction writer and birder.

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