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What I learned downloading my Facebook information


Facebook is a super social net.

Facebook is a super irresponsible social net. And every so often it is a good idea to check what the biggest social media company in the world has on you.

Downloading your Facebook information is easy. You get all the facts you have inputted into Facebook since you opened the account. What you don’t see is the mega-web of connections your presence has. But you can get a small scope by exploring your footprint and then realizing Facebook has data on everything you have interacted with as well as your facial information.

A few things about my Facebook activity:

  • I have been on Facebook since May 2009.
  • My birth year on Facebook is 1905.
  • I have been slowly removing old posts off Facebook since 2012.
  • I don’t post many pictures.
  • I have had 400-500 friends for at least the last 5 years.
  • I had Facebook on my phone from 2010-2012. I have not had Facebook on my phone since. I log on via laptop and log off, just as I would an email platform such as gmail.
  • I have an Instagram account that is not linked to my Facebook account. I use two different names, two different email addresses, and Instagram is only my phone.

So here is what I learned by downloading all my Facebook information on Sept 29, 2018:

  • I posted pics on a few pages I don’t follow anymore. A good time to delete those. No need for my face to be in places where I don’t visit.
  • It is weird to see I requested to be friends with someone in 2014 who I have no idea who they are in 2018.
  • Facebook claims I have interacted with 10 ads in the last 2 months – all on Instagram. However, when I click Facebook’s ad preferences webpage, no interactions are shown. Sneaky Facebook. Very sneaky. How are they linking the accounts? My guess is facial recognition.
  • Advertisers running ads on Facebook that have my email address are 99% US automotive dealerships. Hundreds of them. Surely my email went into a marketing network somewhere. Not sure how they received my email address, but that is interesting.
  • Facebook thinks I have clicked on a lot of ads. I never click ads.
  • Facebook thinks I am into Parenting and Children. Probably because of my age and the social status of my friend connections.
  • I hadn’t cleared my Search bar since 2016. I might want to do that more frequently.
  • I have removed 247 friends off my friends list since 2009. My high year for removing “friends” was 2011, when I removed 53 people from my friends list.
  • Doesn’t the fact that Facebook can tell me who I removed from my friends list in 2010 mean they still consider us a connection? Just because I am not “connected” in view, doesn’t mean the database doesn’t still see the relationship.
  • Although my friends list says 451, Facebook says I have added 435 friends.
  • These lists do not include people who have removed me from their friends list. Those people do not show on the added nor the removed list.

I made this chart from my friend list data.

Friends chart


I was actually quite surprised to see 2016 so high. From the data and looking at the names I removed, this was probably not due to politics at all. It seems I cleaned out my friends list early in 2016 and removed people I didn’t interact with.

My goal is to eventually clear all but a year’s worth of posts off Facebook. I’d like to keep the posts, but maybe copy them on to my blog, or maybe into a pdf file, and maybe even print them out into a diary type book. It will be a long effort, but I think it would be worth it. As a writer, it is inevitable that I will continue to create and interact, but with privacy concerns at all-time high, my words are better off with me than with Facebook.