A guide to getting your data from Facebook app

Your Facebook app stores a lot of information in the cloud. Here we show you how to gain access to it.

Last modified
28th February 2022
Guide level
Guide app/software
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It's important to understand how much of your data is stored in the cloud. Why? Because our research exposes that law enforcement can use cloud extraction techniques to obtain vast quantities of your data. These techniques means law enforcement can circumvent asking companies like Facebook for your data and avoid getting a warrant. So the use of this technology means there is no limit on what they can obtain, no transparency and no clear, accessible or effective legal safeguards to protect your data from risk of abuse and misuse.

Tools such as the Oxygen Forensic Cloud Extractor can be used to acquire “data from the most popular cloud services” including WhatsApp, iCloud, Google, Microsoft, Mi Cloud, Huawei, Samsung, E-Mail (IMAP) Servers and more - “also various social media services are supported to include but not limited to: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many more.”

The information you share on Facebook can be very revealing. It can also be misinterpreted by law enforcement agencies and used to profile individuals. Once installed on a device, depending on your settings, the Twitter app has access to information such as your location, contact information and media stored on the same device. All of this data can be accessed remotely using cloud extraction technology.

Even if you use end to end encrypted messaging, if you back up your Facebook messages to the cloud, they are accessible to [law enforcement].(https://privacyinternational.org/long-read/3300/cloud-extraction-technology-secret-tech-lets-government-agencies-collect-masses-data).

How to find out what data Facebook stores about you

a) Open your Facebook app on your phone and access the Menu by clicking on the three blue lines on the bottom right corner of the screen.

On the Menu landing page, scroll down until you see a drop down tab titled "Settings & Privacy" option. Click on the drop down menu, then click on "Settings."

b) Once in Settings, scroll down until you get to a part of the Settings menu titled "Your Facebook information."

c) Once on the "Access your information" landing page you will see various categories of your information that you can access. Here you have an option to scroll down and access a particular category of information of your choice.

d) A second way to access information that has been collected about you is to select the option to 'Download your information'.

If you do choose to download your information, then you will again have to select the different categories of information you want to see, select a date range, the format you want your downloaded information to be in and the media quality of the media files associated with your account.

After selecting the options you are interested in then click on 'Create File'. You will get confirmation that your request has been registered.

Depending on the amount of information that Facebook has on you will determine the amount of time it will take to prepare the file. Once the file is ready for download, you will receive a Facebook notification on the Facebook app.

When you return to the "Download your information" option (step C above) you will find a downloadable file under the "Available Copies" tab.

Limiting data Facebook collects about you

One additional way that may assist in reducing the amount of data the Facebook app collects on you is to change your settings.

a) On your phone, go to the general 'Settings' menu.

b) Once in the 'Settings' menu, scroll down to the 'Privacy' option.


c) Then select the 'Location Services' option.

d) On the 'Location Services' menu, scroll down the list of apps until you find 'Facebook.' Then select 'Facebook.'

e) Switch off live location access for Facebook by selecting 'Never'

Ensure that you turn off Facebook's access to your location as well as to photos stored on your device.

Please note that turning off these features will limit some of the Facebook app's features such as the "Check-In" feature or uploading images from your phone to the Facebook app.

You will have to turn on location and access to photos as per need but it is not advisable to leave both settings set to on at all times.

If you want to know more about how you can protect your privacy on the Facebook app, you can also read our Facebook good practices guide

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