How to check on what information Facebook has on you. It would be a good idea to do this. Now.

There’s been a big shift in the way we look at Facebook. In short order, we’ve gone from shrugging about how much data the company has on us to being outraged at how our privacy is being exploited by Facebook and third parties. If there’s one thing about this Cambridge Analytica scandal, it’s that it has everyone woke.

The whole premise of Facebook is that the company offers us this really cool and useful platform in exchange for us giving it personal data. Facebook now has a lot of data on us–two billion humans–which they use in all kinds of mysterious ways. And as the CA situation proves, even Facebook doesn’t really know where all our data is going.

A good exercise is to download your personal Facebook archive of information, everything (I assume) the company has on you.

I did it this morning. After I made the request, I ended up with a 216 MB file about half an hour later. When I opened it, I found hundreds and hundreds of phone numbers and birthdate and other personal information. They’re all from friend requests and connections. Because I was free and easy with accepting requests, I have all this info on people I don’t know.

That means Facebook has all this information, too. And this is the kind of stuff they use to target us with ads and who knows what else. The exercise was eye-opening, to say the least.

If you want instructions on how to download your Facebook archive, go here. If you think it’s time to #deleteFacebook, go here. But you might also want to read this, too.

Finally, here’s a TVO documentary on the company. Click on the image to start watching.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37871 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “How to check on what information Facebook has on you. It would be a good idea to do this. Now.

  • Some good information. Thanks for sharing

  • I deleted Facebook in 2008, after being on for less than a year. Never liked them, never liked the labyrinthine user interface.

    Two years ago I was briefly on because a conference I was attending had a Facebook group attendees were supposed to use to get to know each other prior to the conference. I signed up with a different email than last time… but it still made connections, even though I didn’t friend anyone (because I knew I was leaving again after the conference was over), and was using different devices, different ISP, different everything. Apparently it’s because some of my friends have it access to their contacts.

    Even though my new account was virtually shut down and I only belonged to the conference group, it was still a pain to navigate to the one group — and it wouldn’t let me read all the group messages either.

    Honestly, if the only reason it gets used is “everyone is on it”, it deserves to die. We were talking about it at work, and most people said they only used it to organise going out with friends. There are better tools for that.


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