Want to Know what Facebook Knows About You? Download Your Data

In the last week there has been much reporting about the amount of data Facebook stores about its users. From Facebook keeping phone call and text message meta data of Android users, to Cambridge Analytica using Facebook data to profile and micro-target users for political purposes, it is clear that Facebook tracks a lot of user activity.

This activity is not just useful to advertisers using Facebook. It may also be useful to lawyers in litigation. Want to know if the defendant was posting on Facebook at the time of the crash? Want to see what the plaintiff said about her injuries? Want to know if the victim and the defendant were exchanging messages? A user can easily obtain a complete copy of their Facebook data. Lawyer or law enforcement can also obtain the data through a subpoena or search warrant.

The amount of data contained in a Facebook account may be staggering. Try it on your own account to see for yourself.

Here’s how:

  1. Log in to Facebook on a computer
  2. Click on down arrow in the top right corner and select settings
  3. Click “Download a copy of your Facebook data” at the bottom of the page
  4. Click to Start the archive
  5. Wait to receive the email that the download is ready
  6. Follow the instructions on the email and download the data

You’ll find every post, like, comment, etc. you have ever made on Facebook. You will see all the Facebook events you attended. You may find the contacts from your phone. You’ll see what ad topics Facebook believes you will like. You’ll see what ads you have clicked on and what advertisers have your contact information.

With so much data about a person available from Facebook, it’s easy to imagine how this data could be used in litigation.  You may want to consider requests for production, or subpoenas, to obtain relevant data. Of course, there may be limitations as you could also obtain a significant amount of personal data that is not related to the claims at issues.