You had questions about your Facebook data. I have answers

I recently wrote about downloading 14 y...

Posted: Mar 27, 2018 4:04 PM
Updated: Mar 27, 2018 4:04 PM

I recently wrote about downloading 14 years of my Facebook data, where I uncovered a large collection of personal information about my life that the company has held onto over the years.

I fell down that rabbit hole on Friday, days after news broke that the data firm Cambridge Analytica misused information from 50 million Facebook users.

CNN readers had a lot of questions about my experience. Here they are, answered.

How do I download my data?

The tool you use to download a copy of your Facebook data isn't very obvious at first.

You need to log onto Facebook and go to the "Settings" page. On desktop, click on the down arrow on the top corner of the screen. On the "General" section, select the option to "download a copy of your Facebook data." I didn't see the option on mobile; only on desktop.

Facebook will then email the data to you. It took about 10 minutes to download the folder, but it can take longer depending on the size of the file.

Inside, the data is segmented. The easiest way to view it is via the "html" folder.

My data didn't include phone numbers for relatives who are not on Facebook - but you said the website collected your grandmother's number. Why is that?

At some point, Facebook asked me to grant it access to my phone contacts. I did and forgot about it. Among those numbers was my late grandmother's landline.

What I didn't realize - and you may not have realized this, either - is that the Facebook-owned chat app Messenger continuously syncs phone contacts unless you proactively turn it off.

Here's how you can turn it off: Tap your profile picture in the top left corner of your Messenger app. Then tap People and Sync Contacts. It will take you to your app settings, where you'll need to toggle it off.

I also deleted my "invite history," which includes the contacts that I allowed Messenger to upload from my phone. Anyone should be able to view their invite history data by clicking here.

It's not clear whether following these steps completely removes my contacts from Facebook's server. I've reached out to Facebook, but they have not yet responded.

Why is Facebook logging calls and texts?

Some Android users who reviewed their data noticed that Facebook had collected information about call history, including who they called and how long they spoke. Ars Technica reported the issue over the weekend.

On Sunday, Facebook published a blog post that said it only collects that data because users "expressly agreed" to share it when installing Messenger or Facebook Lite, an Android version of Facebook built for emerging markets that doesn't require as much data or as strong an internet connection.

"This feature does not collect the content of your calls or text messages. Your information is securely stored and we do not sell this information to third parties," the company wrote in the blog post. "You are always in control of the information you share with Facebook."

Does Facebook know more about me than other platforms?

The short answer is not necessarily. Google, for example, collects location details, your search history and a lot more.

Google is pretty transparent about what it collects, and makes that known on its privacy page. But some say that managing data that Google collects can be challenging.

Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina, tweeted that it took her "about three tries to completely turn off Google location tracking."

Tufekci researches technology, society, and privacy and surveillance. "If I can't manage this, who is supposed to?" she asked.

If you didn't go to Harvard University, how were you on Facebook in 2004?

First of all, I went to the University of Virginia. Thank you very much. Yes, Facebook started at Harvard University. But it rolled out the service to a number of other universities the same year, including my alma mater.

In 2005, Facebook opened up the platform to high schools. In 2006, it became available to anyone with an email address.

What else should I know?

For more on how to (mostly) stop Facebook from sharing your data with other businesses, my colleague wrote a story about the process last week.

Have more questions about your Facebook data? Email me at sara.obrien@cnn.com.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 483790

Reported Deaths: 6543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1003791583
Ramsey42945800
Dakota36091387
Anoka33200384
Washington21986254
Stearns18703200
St. Louis14746262
Scott13209107
Wright12489115
Olmsted1176188
Sherburne869772
Carver765240
Clay688887
Rice667191
Blue Earth591035
Kandiyohi578474
Crow Wing518381
Chisago496844
Otter Tail481370
Benton444890
Winona416649
Mower402731
Douglas392268
Nobles386547
Goodhue384468
Polk342262
McLeod338349
Beltrami336751
Morrison323547
Lyon312444
Itasca311646
Becker309941
Isanti305354
Carlton299848
Steele299211
Pine281916
Freeborn279823
Nicollet256041
Todd246330
Brown243537
Le Sueur233920
Mille Lacs226747
Cass219124
Waseca208617
Meeker206934
Martin188228
Wabasha18613
Roseau179617
Hubbard160640
Houston157114
Dodge15154
Renville149040
Redwood146527
Fillmore13708
Chippewa135935
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Pennington131816
Wadena130220
Faribault122716
Aitkin118733
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Watonwan11708
Rock115614
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Pipestone101424
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Murray9438
Jackson93310
Swift87918
Pope8025
Marshall77615
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Lac qui Parle68216
Wilkin66910
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Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 361499

Reported Deaths: 5412
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58007549
Linn20606312
Scott18279207
Black Hawk16223290
Woodbury14924211
Johnson1380473
Dubuque13522194
Dallas1132690
Pottawattamie10762143
Story1018945
Warren553474
Clinton542484
Cerro Gordo532781
Webster517687
Marshall495572
Sioux493469
Buena Vista472736
Des Moines457061
Muscatine450691
Wapello4314108
Jasper416266
Plymouth394277
Lee374752
Marion358469
Jones294354
Henry293037
Carroll285348
Bremer279154
Crawford273435
Boone259130
Washington253747
Benton252054
Mahaska223846
Jackson221138
Dickinson217238
Tama212965
Kossuth208154
Clay193125
Hamilton191942
Delaware188639
Winneshiek188427
Buchanan184629
Fayette184335
Page182619
Hardin180839
Wright179531
Harrison179469
Cedar177023
Clayton168053
Butler165831
Mills162820
Floyd162740
Madison154018
Poweshiek153630
Cherokee153535
Hancock146729
Lyon145941
Allamakee144946
Iowa144223
Grundy138830
Appanoose138647
Jefferson138232
Winnebago137730
Calhoun133311
Cass133351
Mitchell130640
Louisa128341
Union126331
Chickasaw124813
Sac124218
Emmet120940
Shelby120433
Franklin118419
Humboldt117225
Guthrie116228
Palo Alto104921
Montgomery103936
Howard102821
Clarke100320
Unassigned9850
Keokuk97829
Monroe93128
Adair91928
Ida90832
Pocahontas85219
Davis82523
Monona81527
Greene76910
Lucas73221
Osceola70314
Worth6947
Taylor66312
Fremont5869
Decatur5749
Van Buren56018
Ringgold51820
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