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Facebook Silently Removes Ability To Download Your Posts 229

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the probably-best-to-forget dept.
dcollins writes "Facebook has a 'Download Info' capability that I've used regularly since 2010 to archive, backup, and search all the information that I've written and shared there (called 'wall posts'). But I've discovered that sometime in the last few months, Facebook silently removed this largest component from the Downloaded Info, locking up all of your posted information internally where it can no longer be exported or digitally searched. Will they reverse course if this is publicized and they're pressured on the matter?" It does appear that the archive of your wall posts is now only available through the not-very-useful Activity Log.
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Facebook Silently Removes Ability To Download Your Posts

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  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @10:06AM (#43914745)

    Will they reverse course if this is publicized and they're pressured on the matter?

    How often has that been successful in getting Facebook to change anything?

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @11:22AM (#43915485)
      Not because of the bad publicity, but if they take it as an indication that most people are upset about it then yeah, they might not want to annoy their user base away and fall below critical mass.

      Specifically to this issue? No, it's abundantly clear that most facebookers don't care. But when it comes to trivial things like "where did the 'like' button go why did you move it all the way to the line below oh my god this is horrible" then maybe.
    • Facebook Beacon was the last time I remember them bowing to public pressure. Of course, since then they have instituted technologies that are far more intrusive, yet after the initial outrage over the privacy violations dies down, people just forget about it and silently accept the FBRape
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook_Beacon [wikipedia.org]
  • by telchine (719345) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @10:06AM (#43914747)

    I don't really understand why Facebook would do this. What benefit is there for them?

    • by loufoque (1400831)

      Force people to use their search tools rather than your own?

    • Re:Malicious? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gl4ss (559668) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @10:11AM (#43914799) Homepage Journal

      not having to fix the download info tool to work with something minor that broke it.

      • Re:Malicious? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @10:18AM (#43914905)

        This. Probably one person that knows how to keep it running, and they got busy with other stuff.

        Though to be fair, FB has enough money to throw at a problem that it shouldn't be a real issue.

    • Re:Malicious? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mwvdlee (775178) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @10:13AM (#43914817) Homepage

      Obvious benefit is that it makes it harder for their Products to move to a possible competitor's website should they want to do so.

      • Re:Malicious? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by NatasRevol (731260) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @10:57AM (#43915263) Journal

        Who the hell would want to repost all their old opinions & photos?

        • by kermidge (2221646)

          One might want a copy of their stuff on their own storage media for reference or safe-keeping. For instance.

        • Old opinions - no

          Photos - much more likely

          • by rwa2 (4391) *

            I do all of my posts to Facebook via Twitter. That means the Library of Congress has all my content archived.

            Also, it means I don't have to run the Facebook app on my Android device to post. Double win!

            • That means the Library of Congress has all my content archived.

              Correct me if I'm wrong, but the LoC is only storing the text characters in a Tweet. That means the photo is stored as a link to a file on Twitter's servers.

              I'm not a hosting expert but I figure there's a way to 'mirror' the actual image files on your own server.

              But really, the links should be fine...safer than a photo album. If Twitter was gone for some reason it's highly probable that other options would be limited as well given the circumstan

      • harder for their Products to move to a possible competitor's website

        this should scare the siht out of every facebook employee and shareholder....

        facebook.com is **easy** to compete against...google, yahoo, amazon...any of them could **take facebook down** with a non-abusive, non-user alienating 'social networking' site.

        your cost is hosting, storage and retreival...throw out all the 'U/X' bullshit and facebook.com is **very simple**...it's text and pictures.

        it's just **text and pictures**

        the thing that keeps

    • Reasons (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      1) Buzz. You're talking about them. Free Advertisements rule!
      2) Trial balloon. Did anyone notice? A little. Oh well, we'll dial it back a bit. Maybe you can only download the last few days' worth.
      3) All your data are belong to ... Zuckerberg.

      • Re:Reasons (Score:5, Interesting)

        by bobbied (2522392) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @10:54AM (#43915229)

        3) All your data are belong to ... Zuckerberg.

        An excellent reason to NOT post personal information on ANY site, your data becomes another's property. Sites like Facebook collect an astounding amount of information from your activity, more than you likely suspect.

        I know of multiple births which where announced on Facebook. Birth announcements only gave the full name and date of the birth but one could deduce a lot more from Facebook. One parent posts the announcement of full name and date. You got the proud parent's name who has a spouse relationship so you now have both parents' names. You look at the mother who has her mother shown and volia, mother's maiden name. Births are recorded in the county records, so you look for what counties are close to their home address. You can usually weed that down to one or two. Now we have Father's name, Mother's name, Mother's maiden name, date of birth and county of birth which is more than enough information to take over somebodies identity. Poor kids...Don't even know how much trouble their parents may have caused them, even before they get out of the hospital for the first time.

        Seriously, if you find the need to download all your posts from Facebook and filter though them, you have a problem...

        • Re:Reasons (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ron_ivi (607351) <sdotno AT cheapcomplexdevices DOT com> on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @11:06AM (#43915347)
          "Don't give personal info to strangers" should be a basic safety lesson all parents teach their kids.

          It applies equally much if the stranger's handing out free candy from a windowless van in a city park, or handing out free web services online. And remember that to you Sergei, Zuckerberg, and MySpace Tom are strangers no matter how much they claim to be "friends" who "don't be evil".

          Even Fox News tells you to not give facebook honest information [foxbusiness.com] (perhaps encouraging you to violate Facebook's terms of use).

          Personally I encourage everyone who needs to use Facebook to do it with entirely fictitious data. It's more fun. Your actual friends will know what your aliases are; and you probably don't want your non-actual-friends spying on you anyway.

          • by devent (1627873)

            But the problem is, that nobody thinks "I give my data to Facebook". The users think "I announce the birth to my friends and family".

            That is why in the EU we have strong privacy laws, and that laws should be expanded. At some point Facebook becomes a carrier like the telephone company or postal office. But Facebook is not transferring telephone calls or letters, but digital mails and pictures.

            Good luck try and explain that your baby pictures you post are going not to your friends and family but to Facebook,

        • Sites like Facebook collect an astounding amount of information from your activity, more than you likely suspect.

          A friend just had a baby, he refused to use the FB birth announcement for the same reasons.

          When I signed up on FB this past fall, I purposely left few personal details in my profile. Having been a victim of identity theft, I am militant about protecting my privacy. I also despise advertising and am well aware of FB using personal profiles for advertising, and I do not want ads targetted to me based on where I live, where I work, my interests, etc. I take the usual precautions such as no discussion of

          • by tibit (1762298)

            At least in the U.S., if you've ever had a ticket, or was a plaintiff or defendant in a court case, or own real estate, or have liens on your property - you're out there already. The system that stole your identity was most likely automated malware that you had on your PC. That's how identities get typically stolen. No one has the time to give you personal attention, let's not be deluded about that. Identity theft by and large is an entirely automated process. What you do on Facebook is pretty much irreleva

            • by bobbied (2522392)

              Public records are bad for identity theft, to be sure. It used to be worse, but now some places are tightening up access to this information and redacting some of the more sensitive data.

              I'm just trying to make folks aware of how trivial it is to piece together information when you decide to give Facebook information like your birthday, family relationships and such. I've seen nutty folks posting "Wish you where here!" photo galleries while on vacation, not realizing that they pretty much just said "My ho

    • Re:Malicious? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chris Mattern (191822) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @10:14AM (#43914849)

      They don't want you to able to access your stuff if you're not on Facebook. This "encourages" you to stay on Facebook.

      • Re:Malicious? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @10:19AM (#43914911)
        From Facebook's perspective, FTFY:

        They don't want you to able to access their stuff if you're not on Facebook.

      • They don't want you to able to access your stuff if you're not on Facebook. This "encourages" you to stay on Facebook.

        Deja Vu... AOL tried the same tactic with their "walled garden" in which they did everything possible to keep you inside AOL - news, purchases, chats, everything was done inside AOL. And like FB, these tactics gradually appeared due to shareholder pressure after they went public.

    • Captive audience (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @10:15AM (#43914855)

      I don't really understand why Facebook would do this. What benefit is there for them?

      The harder it is for you to download your data, the harder it is for you to leave.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Don't have to spend money maintaining the feature.

    • I don't really understand why Facebook would do this. What benefit is there for them?

      You can check out any time you like; but you can never leave... with your data, at least not easily.

  • Meh. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Facebook removes a little-known, little-used feature that they no longer want to spend money supporting. The feature can be replaced on the user end with screen scraping. "News" at 11.

  • Get a court order. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rodrigoandrade (713371) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @10:09AM (#43914779)

    If retrieving your posts is that important to you, get a court order, so Facebook must give you access to download them.

    • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @10:12AM (#43914805)

      If retrieving your posts is that important to you, get a court order, so Facebook must give you access to download them.

      If the government's archiving all digital communications, who needs a court order? Just file a FOIA for your old stuff.

      • by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @10:16AM (#43914869)

        If retrieving your posts is that important to you, get a court order, so Facebook must give you access to download them.

        If the government's archiving all digital communications, who needs a court order? Just file a FOIA for your old stuff.

        That could work, but you risk having them black out the parts you're interested in.

      • by JJJJust (908929) <JJJJust&gmail,com> on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @10:24AM (#43914961)

        US centric: The Freedom of Information Act is designed to get information on other subjects. The Privacy Act is what you cite and a far better tool to get information on yourself.

      • by dywolf (2673597)

        it would violate your privacy for the gov to tell you what they know about you

      • by Y-Crate (540566)

        If retrieving your posts is that important to you, get a court order, so Facebook must give you access to download them.

        If the government's archiving all digital communications, who needs a court order? Just file a FOIA for your old stuff.

        I wouldn't trust the government to provide the accurate number of "likes" the post received. ;)

    • or if (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Titus Groan (2834723) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @10:21AM (#43914929)
      or if you're in the UK serve them with a Data Protection Act Subject Access Request for all of your information, don't forget to ask for details of all those with whom your data has been shared.The most they can charge you for this is £10 and when they fail to comply you report them to the Office of the Information Commissioner who will ream their ass with a big fat fine. Similar legislation exists throughout the EU.
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @10:10AM (#43914785)

    Depending on where you are, you might be able to send them a Subject Access Request or your local equivalent, forcing them to provide you with all the personal data they hold about you, give or take a bit of wriggling on their part, for a token amount of money.

    • by Xest (935314)

      I was under the impression this is why Facebook implemented this feature in the first place, to try and ward off some of the people who were doing exactly that.

      Perhaps now the whole "contact Facebook to get all personal data held on you on a CD" thing has calmed down they think they can backtrack on that. Maybe they need a reminder, maybe it's time to start requesting data again as you say?

  • If you can still view the posts you can download them yourself. Look at this as a chance to learn about some scripting language a little more. You might even be able to publish this work for fame or money.

  • I still see it. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I have the "Download a copy of your Facebook data" on my Account Settings page. Maybe this was selectively removed from some accounts only?

    • by tepples (727027)
      When you ran "Download a copy of your Facebook data", did the resulting archive contain your wall posts? The complaint is that the wall posts and only the wall posts were removed from the archive.
  • Down the memory hole (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mkro (644055) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @10:22AM (#43914939)

    On Sunday or Monday, I shared a "What is happening in Turkey" post, in English, from a Turkish friend's wall to my own. It was shared to "Friends except acquaintances" and got a few likes and comments. This morning I noticed it was gone from my wall. It is not to be found in my activity log, and the notifications of that it had been commented on were also gone.

    I was starting to doubt I had posted it at all, when I remembered to check Google Reader (Yep, still running), as I ages ago had set up a RSS feed with my notifications there. There it was, "[Friend's name] likes your link", with a clickable link to facebook.com/my name/posts/ followed by a numerical value. However clicking on it gave this message: "This content is currently unavailable. The page you requested cannot be displayed right now. It may be temporarily unavailable, the link you clicked on may have expired, or you may not have permission to view this page". Other posts in my RSS feed works fine, so it was just this particular one.

    If it wasn't for the RSS feed, I probably would have shrugged it off and thought no more of it, so I guess the RSS feature will be gone soon too.

  • Are belong to facebook...

  • How do I download my Slashdot posts? I've wanted to do that for years.

  • The capability is still there it's just available under the "police" menu.

  • Allow Bing access to internal posts, but shut out google?

  • Nothing is free. As far as I'm concerned, I would rather pay for a social media network, if, they operated in good faith and ensured that I could control the levels of access to my information as I see fit. You won't get that from Facebook.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @11:10AM (#43915383)
    The feature has NOT been removed. It is right here:

    https://www.facebook.com/settings [facebook.com]

    Simply click "Download a copy of your Facebook data."
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @11:44AM (#43915721)

      RTFA. You can download an archive of some of your data. While that archive used to include your wall posts (a substantial portion of the content you generate on Facebook), that content is no longer included. I have tried and verified this.

      • by DaTrueDave (992134) * on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @12:12PM (#43915993)

        I just did it and my wall posts were included in the downloaded archive. Strange that it works for some, but not for others.

        • by Minwee (522556)

          That's standard operating procedure for Facebook. They don't just have a single server that everybody in the world logs in to, and they don't update everything at the same time.

          Whenever new code is deployed, it is sent to a small group of servers, tested on the group of users there, and then finally pushed out to the rest. If something is broken by a new release then Facebook's Reverting is for losers! [arstechnica.com] policy applies, and anyone affected by the bug just gets to live with it until it is fixed.

          Don't be su

      • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @12:12PM (#43915997) Journal

        then they haven't updated their what's in doc:

        What's in your archive?

                Photos or videos you've shared on Facebook
                Your Wall posts, messages and chat conversations
                Your friends' names and some of their email addresses

        (Note: We'll only include email addresses for friends who've allowed this in their account settings.)
        What's not in your archive?

                Your friends' photos and status updates
                Other people's personal info
                Comments you've made on other people's posts

        • by dcollins (135727)

          That's contradicted both by (1) the "Accessing Your Facebook Info" page that currently says Your Posts are only available online and not in the Downloaded Info, and (2) the fact that the downloaded archive really doesn't include them anymore (see linked article on both points).

    • by dcollins (135727)

      That's actually the point of the article. The fact that they didn't change the download button will trick people into not knowing that the contents have changed. Namely: a bunch of trivial stuff, but no wall post content.

  • by kaizendojo (956951) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @11:12AM (#43915405)
    that they may be simply working on the site and temporarily disabled the link while they work behind the scenes? Anyone bother to contact their support to find out what was going on? No, let's all just start rumors and have the media pick it up as a 'news' story.
  • by AcquaCow (56720) <acquacow&hotmail,com> on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @11:31AM (#43915593) Homepage

    The link is here in your settings: https://www.facebook.com/settings [facebook.com]

    Link is at the bottom... "Download a copy of your Facebook data."

    -- Dave

    • by lgw (121541)

      TFA says that no longer includes wall posts. Several /. posters have confirmed the change. Couldn't say, myself, but have you tried it today and seen whether everything is still there?

      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        The download page still says it includes wall posts. I have yet to verify:

        What's in your archive?

        Photos or videos you've shared on Facebook
        Your Wall posts, messages and chat conversations
        Your friends' names and some of their email addresses

        (Note: We'll only include email addresses for friends who've allowed this in their account settings.)
        What's not in your archive?

        Your friends' photos and st

    • by dcollins (135727)

      As I wrote above: That's actually the point of the article. The fact that they didn't change the download button will trick people into not knowing that the contents have changed. Namely: a bunch of trivial account details, but no wall post content.

  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @11:39AM (#43915661)

    Really? Because of network effects. That's it. Everyone else is communicating on it.

    It's purely a predatory play- they capture people who are at a time in their lives when they're well known to be indiscreet. They then record all that indiscretion. Then they monetize it.

    Meanwhile, Zuckerberg is taking the results of that monetization and campaigning -hard - for XL Keystone pipeline.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/peninsula/ci_23151754/keystone-xl-foes-rally-front-facebook-protest-zuckerbergs [mercurynews.com]

    a fact he's aggressively trying to lie about:

    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2013/04/30/1943091/facebook-rejects-ad-highlighting-zuckerberg-groups-support-for-keystone-xl/ [thinkprogress.org]

    because like all other deniers,. he's first and foremost a narcissist:

    http://www.afterpsychotherapy.com/narcissistic-personality-disorder/ [afterpsychotherapy.com]

    who relishes the idea that he's smarter and more knowledgeable across a highly technical domain than are the the world's scientists who have spent their lives disciplined in and mastering that domain.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-scientific-consensus.htm [skepticalscience.com]

    But one thing he doesn't have in common with other deniers

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer [newyorker.com]

    is he's going to be around long enough to be forced by society to bear, without reserve, the consequences of his actions today, which depending on how bad things get, could range anywhere from total dissolution of his personal wealth to fund emergency, remedial action against global warming - an outcome that is now a virtually certainty- to extended torture at the hands of enraged mobs / quasi-civilization, should we reach five degrees of warming and real civilization just breaks down.:

    http://globalwarming.berrens.nl/globalwarming.htm [berrens.nl]

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nRf2RTqANg [youtube.com]

  • I heard there is a new app coming out called Fakeblock. It should help with this.

    George Maharris is going to be the next Zuckerberg.
  • https://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/api/search/ [facebook.com]
    https://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/api/post/ [facebook.com]

    Maybe they just replaced it with something better? Maybe learn how to use google for even a single moment? I don't recall facebook ever promising to me that they would meet my every data need if I signed up for their free ad-supported service.

    Maybe build a tron canoe to ride on your river of digital tears?

  • If you are expecting any control over anything you post to facebook, you are sorely misguided.
  • If it was that important, you could probably solve it with Greasemonkey.
  • I just sent a request to download my own expanded archive. Whether the request is completed or not, we'll see. But the link is still there.

Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code. -- Dave Olson

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