Reddit users overwhelm Facebook with data requests

Reddit users overwhelm Facebook with data requests

Summary: Reddit users appear to have flooded Facebook with personal data requests. The social network has sent an e-mail to many of them saying it just can't keep up and they will have to wait.

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Reddit users have flooded Facebook with personal data requests via the service's official form. This appears to have overwhelmed Facebook's Data Access Request Team, forcing the group to send out e-mails telling users there will be a significant delay.

It all started with a Reddit submission titled "How to annoy Facebook" by Reddit user realbigfatty. At the time of writing, it is number three on the "what's hot" section of Reddit's frontpage, and number one on the same section under the Funny subreddit.

The submission links to an image with the following four-step tutorial:

  1. Open this site: https://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=data_requests
  2. Enter your personal information
  3. Make a reference to the following law: "Section 4 DPA + Art. 12 Directive 95/46/EG"
  4. Click on Send

The image then goes on to explain that because of Britain's 1988 Data Protection Act (DPA), Facebook has to send you your data on a CD within 40 days. It's worth noting that this is a mistake, the DPA in question is Ireland's. The CD contains a PDF that is typically more than 1,000 pages long and more than 100MB in size.

These steps seem to be adapted from the Europe versus Facebook webpage. That page also notes that Facebook will likely try to change your mind and discourage you by explaining how to log onto the social network and see your data. You may thus have to send one or two responses insisting you want all your data sent to you.

That being said, they won't be getting back to you anytime soon. While this option has been available for a while, it appears that Reddit users have managed to overload Facebook's staff, according to another Reddit submission titled "I got a reply from Facebook after doing the 'How to annoy Facebook'" by Reddit user endroop. At the time of writing, it is number 17 on the "what's hot" section on Reddit's frontpage, and number three on the same section under the Funny subreddit.

The submission links to an image of an e-mail Facebook sent to the Reddit user. According to the comments on the submission, other users from all around the world have received the same automatic reply. Here is what it says:

Hi,

We have received your subject access request (the "Request").

Due to the volume of personal data access requests that we have recently received, we are experiencing significant delay in processing such requests. We therefore are unlikely to respond within 40 days of your initial request. We appreciate your patience and will respond as soon as possible.

We are presently refining our request response processes and approach to align the present high volume of access requests with the resources available to process these requests. We appreciate your patience and will respond as soon as possible.

Please be aware as well that we are not required to comply with any future similar requests, unless, i nour opinion, a reasonable period of time has elapsed.

Again, we appreciate your patience and will respond as soon as possible.

Thanks for contacting Facebook, Facebook User Operations - Data Access Request Team

I doubt Facebook will end up agreeing to every single request, but even a small portion of these will result in many needless CDs being burned and sent to Reddit users. If you participated in this troll, I hope that you don't insist on getting your CD from Facebook. If you requested the data because you actually really do want a copy, then by all means, exercise your rights.

I have contacted Facebook for more information on how it is dealing with this issue.

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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28 comments
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  • RE: Reddit users overwhelm Facebook with data requests

    What FaceBook can do here is offer to send data to these users through other means such as email or a pdf download right from their account. They can then ask if users really do want a CD and then send only if necessary.
    You know, 1988 was a long time ago, when other ways of sending files didn't exist. This may satisfy the majority of users who "actually need data".
    regsrini
    • RE: Reddit users overwhelm Facebook with data requests

      @regsrini exactly what I was thinking... I mean, what would I do with that cd with my data? I only need my data... or know what they keep about me... It might insecure to download over the internet, but hey, my mailman might wanna look at my mail... and you know... at least over the internet, my data would be obscured by other things running around... Unless of course someone is actually spying on me then neither choice would be safe.
      zaghy2zy
    • RE: Reddit users overwhelm Facebook with data requests

      @regsrini I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the law referenced. I really don't think Facebook would willingly put the information onto CDs If they didn't have to.
      CobraA1
      • RE: Reddit users overwhelm Facebook with data requests

        @CobraA1
        You're right, FB wouldn't willingly put info onto CDs. But if they are really forced to cater to so many requests as once, digital downloads are the best option, so far as i can see. I'm sure most redittors who spammed FB with data access requests would know how to download a simple PDF file.
        regsrini
    • The whole purpose of this vandalism was to harass

      facebook with mob thug behavior. It has nothing to do with wanting your facebook data.
      baggins_z
    • RE: Reddit users overwhelm Facebook with data requests

      @regsrini They do have a way to download it as a zip file to your PC. It's in everyone's account options. I've done it a few times already, in the past.
      mockylock
      • and even more!

        You even have the option to have them mail you a cd with all of the info that they have collected [url=http://www.totalplumbingsf.com]plumbing san francisco[/url]
        baconman84
  • RE: Reddit users overwhelm Facebook with data requests

    Wow. People would really spam Facebook for nothing other than as a joke? Really?

    That's pretty pathetic. Makes me wonder what parents are teaching their kids these days.
    CobraA1
  • Calling People "Trolls" Is No Excuse For Disobeying The Law

    Q: Who owns your personal data?

    A: You do.
    ldo17
    • RE: Reddit users overwhelm Facebook with data requests

      @ldo17

      Ur a troll, climb out from under the bridge and go back to ur mommy and learn some manners. Once on the net everyone owns ur data, not just you. and if u seriosly wna to see what u posted over 2 years ago, again ur a tool...

      If u dont like FB dont use it then, no one is forcing u to use a free service, oh did i say free, yes free...
      Mr.Red
      • hahha

        great one dude [url=http://www.thesanjoseplumbers.com]plumbing san jose[/url]
        baconman84
  • Call the Whaaaaaaambulance!

    The data reporting requirements are pretty clear. If Facebook does not have efficient way to fulfill their legal obligations, I have no sympathy.

    Maybe if they wouldn't retain so much data, this wouldn't be an issue.
    SirWired
    • RE: Reddit users overwhelm Facebook with data requests

      @SirWired Maybe if users didn't post so much data this wouldn't be an issue? I find it difficult to understand why someone would expect Facebook not to retain information posted. Especially since some jurisdictions require them to retain any posted data for years at a time for the government snoopy snoopers to read.
      cabdriverjim
  • Different than their data download feature?

    Can anyone speak to whether this CD contains any different data from the bulk download one can retrieve from their website?
    FesterCluck
  • What if...

    Someone asked Google for the same thing?
    msadams@...
    • RE: Reddit users overwhelm Facebook with data requests

      @msadams@... They'd probably laugh in their face.
      Win8AnUglyDisaster
  • RE: Reddit users overwhelm Facebook with data requests

    Hi,
    can users from India too demand to get their details from Facebook using this request?
    sri_r
  • RE: Reddit users overwhelm Facebook with data requests

    Stupid trolls. Reddit is definitely the mainstream 4chan equivalent.
    Win8AnUglyDisaster
  • RE: Reddit users overwhelm Facebook with data requests

    If you collect all that information, you should be willing to give it up. I think it's ridiculous that you discourage this activity. If you do, you should also be discouraging the rampant trolling Facebook is doing by collecting people's data even after they've left facebook. I'm actually ashamed of this article for encouraging people not to participate. DO it and and get the information you deserve to have.
    owstopit
    • RE: Reddit users overwhelm Facebook with data requests

      @owstopit <br><br>Up Votes for you! People often forget FB is out for a profit, and that profit is information.

      Edit: That profit COMES from information
      Kickem