Europe versus Facebook: New download tool is not enough

Facebook has updated its Download Your Information tool to let you download more of your Facebook data. Europe versus Facebook, which first complained about the tool, is still not satisfied.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

Facebook today revealed it is expanding the list of data it provides you via its own Download Your Information tool. For more information, see How to download your Facebook account.

I contacted Facebook to find out what exactly has been added, and got back the following list:

  • Pending Friend Requests – Friend requests you've received but not accepted or denied and friend requests you've sent.
  • Mobile Telephone numbers – Telephone numbers you've added to your profile as mobile numbers.
  • Account status changes – dates when your account was reactivated/deactivated, memorialized, unmemorialized, disabled or deleted. So, if you are a regular user who has never temporarily disabled your account, there shouldn't be anything.
  • Birthday Visibility –setting you have for your birthday visibility. City and Hometown Info – current settings since we overwrite these every time you change them.
  • Datr Cookie Info – cookie used for security purposes.
  • Events Info – events you accepted, declined, and responded maybe to.
  • Family Members – other Facebook users you have set as family members.
  • IP Addresses – the IP addresses that we have stored, will not be all the IP address from the history of your account.
  • Spoken Languages – list of languages you've set in your profile.
  • Login Info – list of the logins we have stored, will not be all the logins from the history of your account.
  • Logout Info – All the IP addresses from which you clicked log out.
  • Poke Info – pokes that we have stored.
  • Previous Names – name change history.
  • Relationship Info – what you've set your relationship status to in your profile – also lists names of persons from user's previous relationships.

I also contacted Europe versus Facebook, the group that first complained about the Facebook download tool. Despite today's improvements, Europe versus Facebook is still not satisfied. The group says Facebook's move is a "first partial success" and a "first step in the right direction" but that Facebook is still not "filling its obligation under European law to grant users access to all personal data."

Europe versus Facebook first brought attention to how Facebook does not let users access all their data, and pushed users to ask for it. So far, 40,000 users have used the group's guide (Get your Data!) for how to make a Facebook access request. Europe versus Facebook argues that to this day not one of these 40,000 users has received all the data Facebook is legally bound to disclose to its users.

The group says Facebook only sends a fraction of the information in the 84 data categories (PDF) users should get. In addition to the fact that more than half of the data categories are missing, Facebook is also presenting many of the data categories in its Timeline or Activity Log formats, meaning it is hard to parse.

"If we would have gotten our data in such a format we would have been unable to file the complaints against Facebook," Max Schrems of Europe versus Facebook said in a statement. "We would have never found out that Facebook is still keeping deleted information. This seems to be exactly the reason why Facebook is not giving all user access to the data."

I have asked Facebook again to quantify how many of the 84 categories the company's tool is letting users download (the above list are just the categories that were added today).

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