Facebook finally makes your exported data useful

Facebook finally makes your exported data useful

Summary: Facebook has added microformats support to its Download Your Information feature. The downloaded archive now includes hAtom, hMedia, and HCard formats.


Facebook has quietly added microformats support to its Download Your Information feature. The addition means your exported profile information, posts, photos, and videos come in a useful package that can be parsed, according to TechCrunch.

If you don't already know, Facebook has a Download Your Information feature (Account => Account Settings => Download a copy of your Facebook data. => Start My Archive => Start My Archive). Until recently, this feature simply bundled your personal data in a large zip file and made it available for download. Unfortunately, it was more of a backup file than something that could be imported by other programs: the data was next to useless.

Now, developers can access a user's Facebook data outside of Facebook and its Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and in a format that's more consistent with the rest of the Web. Facebook is, however, warning developers that exporting social data from Facebook should be done by asking users to download and submit their Download Your Information archive, rather than using the Facebook Platform. Developers that try to export data from Facebook via Platform apps will have their apps disabled.

By adding microformats to the HTML included in the zip file, Facebook is helping users and applications parse the data in a meaningful way. The company is now marking up the exported data with the hAtom (wall posts and comments, including permalinks and published dates), hMedia (photos and videos, including titles, timestamps, comments, and album name), and hCard formats (profile data and friend's list).

Unfortunately, the hCards just provide your name (first and last). There is no URL to your Facebook profile, no phone number, and no e-mail address. This is not surprising at all, given Facebook's stance on its social graph (see links below).

This actually isn't the first time Facebook has shown an interest in supporting microformats. Back in February 2011, the social networking giant adopted hCalendar and hCard microformats for Facebook Events.

I have contacted Facebook for more details on this most recent microformats update. I will update this post if I hear back.

See also:

Topic: Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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  • Making use of exported data

    There is no doubt that having access to all your Facebook data is a good thing - it supports many uses, from having a digital journal, supporting search, analysis of your interactions and more. However, this data is only usable, except for the very very technically literate, if there is a good user interface bringing the data and the relationships to life.
    This is exactly what we do at SocialSafe (www.socialsafe.net). The addition of the new data that Facebook allows us to access means that we can make the relationships within SocialSafe even better. Its good to see that they are trying to improve the data users can access, though its a shame they still keep a lot of data closed.
  • RE: Facebook finally makes your exported data useful

    I used to have a Facebook account but it was permanently DELETED by Facebook without reason and I no longer have any way to retrieve my photos, data and friends. Not to mention my Notes, writings etc. This is wrong and I wish Facebook would die with the emergence of non-centralised social networking such as Diaspora and Appleseed. Anyway, is there anybody here at my favourite ZDnet who knows anyone in Facebook who can help reinstate my account?
  • Nice

    Long overdue, and highly useful.