Facebook is the dominant, de facto social network, as confirmed by Pew Research in their most recent social media report. With more of us using it for business purposes on a personal level (as opposed to a brand), you will likely encounter a time when you want to save and archive what you’ve done. Maybe you’ve got some great business conversations in Messenger. Maybe you’d like to do Throwback Thursday stuff with images you loaded to the service years ago.

It’s not obvious or apparent, but there is a way for you to get all of your Facebook content. It’s been hiding there for a couple of years, actually. Under General Account Settings, Facebook put a tiny, tiny link that lets you start the download process:

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Depending on how much you’ve loaded up to Facebook, your archive might be immediately available, or you might be told to wait.

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Once you get the archive, what exactly do you get? You get a ZIP file (archive) containing everything you’ve ever done on Facebook on your own profile. Messages. Wall posts. Videos. Photos.

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You get the works, but it comes out fairly disorganized. From here you’ll want to process stuff and get it indexed. Each file comes with markup inside that will help a piece of software (but not necessarily a human) make sense of it. There are some paid products that will help you slice and dice it, or if you’re a coder, you can do it yourself. Your uploaded photos are in separate folders.

What can you do with this data? For one thing, it’s searchable. Quickly locate conversations and discussions you remember having.

You can also look at concordance. What do you talk about most? You can copy and paste contents into any of the word cloud generators to see what’s been on your mind since you started on Facebook.

Finally, if you work at a company that requires data retention for legal purposes, this is an easy way to fulfill the retention requirements if you’ve used Facebook to stay in touch with people for business reasons.

Download an archive and poke around!


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