Sucks to be Zuck

Facebook allows you to download all your data to your computer.

Lately, there have been so many people doing this that the hardware has been overwhelmed, and so the downloads are very slow.

As near as I can figure out, the only reason to download your data is if you are planning to delete your Facebook account.

Starting in 2010, Facebook started giving users the option to download their Facebook data, the collection of posts, photos, friends and even previous locations that Facebook has collected from you over the years.

Until this spring, when Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal became public, a lot of people didn’t even know that this data download was an option. There’s probably a good reason for that: Downloading your user Facebook data is the kind of thing you might do right as you’re deleting your Facebook account altogether. Facebook even prompts users to do this on the “Permanently Delete Account” screen.

So it’s interesting, then, that there are a lot of people trying to download their data from Facebook this month. So many, in fact, that it’s causing delays on Facebook’s end as the company tries to fulfill all those data requests.


Not all download requests are from users preparing to delete their accounts, of course, though it’s certainly a common process. We also don’t know much about how common download requests actually are. How many people normally request their data? Is this spike in traffic rare? How does it compare to previous spikes? Facebook wouldn’t say.

The timing is interesting, though. It’s been one week since the New York Times published a bombshell report about how Facebook’s top executives handled the fallout of the 2016 presidential election, during which Russian trolls used the service to try and sow discord among voters. The NYT story led to a lot of other negative press for the company in the week since, and more calls for people to delete Facebook.

Why do I have the sense that Mark Zuckerberg right now is clenched so tight that he is mainlining fiber supplements.


BTW, the procedure for downloading Facebook data is pretty straightforward:

  1. Go to Facebook settings.
  2. Click on your Facebook information.
  3. Click on, “Download Your Information.” 
  4. Set your download settings.
  5. Click on, “Create file.”
  6. Wait
  7. and wait………
  8. Download the zip file.  (mine was 13 MB after about 20 minutes)

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