All That Data Facebook Collects? It’s Sharing a Bit More With You

Photograph by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook's F8 developers conference in San Francisco in 2011. His company is expanding the type of historical personal data that users can download.

Facebook is unlocking more of the data it keeps on its 845 million members, allowing users to download an expanded history of their activities on the social network.

The company will begin bundling information about friend requests sent, a person’s previous names (in case women forget their maiden name?) and the Internet-protocol addresses tied to a profile (which could be helpful to verify if an account has been compromised), according to a statement on the Facebook and Privacy page.

Facebook said it will make more data available over time. So how about a list of all the people who un-friended me?

The social networking giant introduced the Download Your Information feature in 2010, which includes a user’s photos, videos, messages, wall posts, and a list of friends and their e-mail addresses, for those that allowed it based on the site’s privacy settings. The download doesn’t include friends’ photos, not even ones in which the user has been tagged, nor their home addresses or phone numbers.

Facebook and Google are among Web companies facing scrutiny over how they handle consumer data to power their online ads. The Obama administration is pushing Congress to enact a privacy bill of rights.

Google has its own complaints against Facebook, saying the company encourages users to transfer their lists of friends’ e-mail addresses from Gmail and other e-mail services, but does not allow Gmail to do the same with Facebook data.

A link to the data file can be found at the bottom of the Facebook privacy settings page. The company said it will unlock the data for all its users “gradually.”

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