Level 53
How to Find Out Everything Facebook Knows About You

Jacob Kleinman

Illustration: Pixabay

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 mom.

Downloaded my facebook data as a ZIP file
Somehow it has my entire call history with my partner's mum
— 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
The Ruby script can be found at A Ruby script for collecting phone record statistics from a Facebook user data dump
— Dylan McKay (@dylanmckaynz) March 22, 2018

McKay also set up a script on Github to analyze the data for you, but even with the included instructions it’s not 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?

Deleted member 65228

I went into Facebook and checked what data was present about me.

Funnily enough, it appears Facebook have more or less nothing on me except the normal Facebook chat conversations. All the information presented is more or less inaccurate and false... They think I "come from" a Facebook page with millions of followers LOL.

Lucky me, looks like I evaded intrusiveness a bit more than others... unintentionally though. I was expecting a LOT more data to have been shoved on the downloaded report given the account is years old.

I asked a friend who also checked his report at the same time and according to them, all the presented data was inaccurate for them as well. Which was interesting.