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Facebook Allows Users to Download More Personal Data

April 12, 2012

Facebook today expanded the amount of account data that members can download about themselves.

"Now you can access additional categories of information, including previous names, friend requests you've made and IP addresses you logged in from," Facebook said in a post on its Privacy Timeline.

The new info will be available to Facebook's almost 900 million users gradually, with more categories available for download in the future, the social network said.

Facebook first provided users with the option to download their information in Oct. 2010 amidst ongoing privacy concerns at the site. During a press event that also included the rollout of Facebook Groups and app-level controls, Mark Zuckerberg said many users had requested copies of their information, prompting the addition.

Accessible information included photos and videos shared on Facebook, Wall posts, messages, and chat conversations, friends' names and email addresses.

To access, users can visit the download page and click "Start My Archive" to receive the data in a subsequent email.

The issue over just how much data Facebook stores about you made headlines last year after a 24-year-old Austrian law student, Max Schrems, asked Facebook to turn over the data it had stored about his Facebook activity and was shocked to find just how much information that included. Schrems wound up filing 22 privacy-related complaints with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) - which handles such issues for Facebook in Europe - and started Europe-v-Facebook.org. Ultimately, the DPC ordered Facebook be more transparent about its facial-recognition feature and how its European users' data is used.

In a statement today, Europe-v-Facebook.org said Facebook "keeps fooling its users."

"Instead of handing out a one-on-one copy of all 84 data categories Facebook is holding about every user, we will only get to see a fraction of this information," the statement said. "Many data categories are going to be not in the download tool but spread all over the webpage. This means that users have to hunt for it by digging through the 'timeline', the 'activity log' and other sorts of pages."

Europe-v-Facebook.org is demanding "a full copy of all raw data to users that made an access request."




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