Facebook has been in the news a lot recently and people are concerned about what information Facebook has about them.

Download Your Facebook Archives

Download your Facebook archives and see what Facebook knows about you.

Have your Facebook login info handy, I had to use it 3 different times during this process:

  1. Open Facebook in a 2nd tab in your browser so you can see these instructions
  2. Go to Settings (top right)
  3. Got to General Account Settings
  4. Click on Download a copy of your Facebook data
  5. Click on Start My Archive
  6. You will receive an email with a link.
  7. Click on the link to download your zip file.
  8. Unzip your file.
  9. Click on index.htm.
  10. Click on the different links to see your personal information.

Interesting sections to view:

Contact Info – all the contacts Facebook has on file for you.

Friends – if you scroll to the bottom you will see declined friend requests and removed friends. Also Facebook’s evaluation of your peer group (examples: Starting Adult Life, Established Adult life).

Ads – a list of ads topics that you are being targeted for (some surprises there for me, such as ‘conservatism’ and ‘foot’ ?!).  If you scroll to the bottom of this page you can see which advertisers have your contact information (examples: because you used Facebook to login to their website or you entered a contest on Facebook).

Security – a list of recognized machines, IP addresses, logins/logouts, and more.

Important! Please store your archives safely! They contain a lot of personal info plus all of your private messages and photos. 

How to Remove Your Contacts from Messenger

Also, if you use Facebook messenger, there is a pretty good chance that Facebook has a list of all of the contacts in your phone… You probably opted in to this when they asked (I know I did, because using messenger was not very convenient otherwise).

Here is where you can check: https://www.facebook.com/mobile/messenger/contacts/

If you want to remove these, you need to disable the Contact Sync in the Messenger app on your phone (Android or Apple products – click on profile picture > people > turn sync contacts option off). Next, go here on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mobile/messenger/contacts and you should see a message in light gray that syncing is disabled. Then, click ‘delete all’ to remove all of the contacts (it’s not instantaneous, it took about 10 minutes when I tested it).

Clean Up Your Facebook Account

If you want to change how much information is available on Facebook and who can access it, here are some ideas:

  1. Open Facebook in a 2nd tab in your browser so you can see these instructions
  2. Go to Settings (top right)

Check out the following sections:

Apps – remove any apps you don’t want connected to your account by clicking on the ‘x’ (if you want to be able to login to those sites with your Facebook login, don’t remove them). If you don’t play games and want to stop getting notifications and invites from friends, you can turn the Game and App Notifications section off. If you don’t want your friends to be able to bring your Facebook info along with them when they use apps, deselect all of the boxes when you edit the Apps Others Use section.

Ads – the first section (Interests) seems to be based on what pages you like and you can’t permanently disable it so not sure that removing the boxes from this section is a worthwhile use of your time. For the rest of the sections, remove/disable as much as you can if you don’t want advertisers to be able to target you based on information available about you. Note: some users actually prefer having these enabled so ads are more relevant to them! There is no option to hide ads in Facebook so you might as well see ones about things you like. The Ads with Facebook Actions – this allows you to stop Facebook from including your name with ads. (For example, I often see ads accompanied with information that a specific Facebook friend likes a page – I don’t want my name endorsing ads and you might not either!). Facebook allows you to hide ads related to alchohol, parenting and pets if you want.

Privacy – In this section you can limit past posts (one click option instead of changing privacy setting for each post individually), decide who can see your friends list, and decide if your Facebook profile should show up in searches in external search engines.

Warning: This is just a start and can be time consuming.

Remember my general advice about the internet – don’t post anything on the internet that you are not okay with everyone seeing, including your mom!

More Resources:

How to remove certain people or events from appearing in your Facebook memories.

How to conduct a security check of your personal Facebook account. 

How to add/remove Facebook page admins.

How to Protect Your Privacy on Facebook