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Facebook expands ‘Download Your Information’ feature, fails to satisfy critics

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In response to privacy advocates, Facebook has updated its “Download Your Information” tool that allows users to access some of the information the social network collects and stores on them to include a wider breadth of data. Now included in the “expanded archive” are previous names users may have sported, their friend request history, and a list of the IP addresses used to access Facebook.

According to the main Download Your Information page, the complete list of new information that users can retrieve includes:

  • IP addresses: Any IP addresses we have stored (this won’t be all of the IP addresses that have ever accessed your account)
  • Login info: A list of the logins we have stored (this won’t include every login during your account’s history)
  • Log out info: The IP addresses from which you logged out
  • Pending friend requests: Friend requests you sent and friend requests you received but haven’t accepted or denied
  • Account status changes: Dates when your account was reactivated, deactivated, disabled or deleted
  • Poke info: Information about the pokes you’ve exchanged
  • Events info: Events you accepted, declined, and responded maybe to
  • The mobile phone numbers you’ve added to your account
  • Your city and hometown (whatever is currently listed)
  • The names of the family members you’ve listed on your account
  • Your relationship info (names and statuses)
  • A list of the languages you’ve added to your profile
  • A history of any changes you’ve made to the name on your account

A post on Facebook’s privacy blog indicates that the additional data will be “rolling out gradually” to all users, and will eventually include more categories of information. No other details are given.

First introduced in 2010, Download Your Information also allows users to reclaim all their photos and videos, Wall posts, sent and received messages, list of friends, notes, certain events, some comments, and chat conversations. All of this, plus the new data categories, can be downloaded as a .zip file.

Despite the additional data, critics says Download Your Information remains far from adequate.

Last year, 24-year-old Austrian law student Max Schrems filed dozens of complaints in Europe against Facebook over its privacy procedures, in an attempt to force the company to be more transparent, and to make it easier for Facebook users to protect their privacy when using the site. And last December, the Irish Data Protection Commission persuaded Facebook to provide users with more of the information it stores on them. The company said it would make these changes by July of this year, and today’s update of Download Your Information is at least the first step in meeting those goals.

“We welcome that Facebook users are now getting more access to their data, but Facebook is still not in line with the European Data Protection Law,” Schrems told The New York Times. “With the changes, Facebook will only offer access to 39 data categories, while it is holding at least 84 such data categories about every user.”

For more information about Download Your Information, click here.