Facebook finally makes your exported data useful

Facebook has added microformats support to its Download Your Information feature. The downloaded archive now includes hAtom, hMedia, and HCard formats.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

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.

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