Though it may have faded into your memory by now, it was only about six weeks ago that people discovered that Cambridge Analytica (CA) had “extracted Facebook data from” 87 million users, as Vox reported.
After this news became public, Facebook users began leaving Facebook — hence the #DeleteFacebook movement. Thankfully, Facebook has a tool that allows its users to download all of their Facebook information — meaning you can download and archive everything the social network knows about you.
Editor’s note: An author writing for PC magazine online did an in-depth exploration of his Facebook data download, and it’s somewhat terrifying.
Is there an “escape hatch” on other social media networks?
After the Facebook “user data breach” news began to slow down, media (specifically TechCrunch) asked other social media networks about their “data download” features — and unfortunately, many social media networks don’t have a user information download feature.
The following paragraph contains TechCrunch’s Instagram “data download” callout:
“It’s hard to #DeleteFacebook with no viable alternative, but at least you can export all your data. There’s no such option on Instagram. That lack of data portability puts users at the mercy of Instagram’s product and policy decisions. And it could even put users at risk, as those who seek to back up their accounts and content are forced to use unofficial third-party apps that require their password.” — TechCrunch
Thankfully, Instagram answered TechCrunch’s call. In early April, the social media network announced that it would “launch a data portability tool” that would let users export their photos, videos, and messages, TechCrunch reported — and now, the feature is here.
Two weeks ago TechCrunch called on Instagram to build an equivalent to Facebook’s “Download Your Information feature so if you wanted to leave for another photo sharing network, you could. The next day it announced this tool would be coming and now TechCrunch has spotted it rolling out to users. Instagram’s “Data Download” feature can be accessed here or through the app’s privacy settings. It lets users export their photos, videos, archived Stories, profile, info, comments, and non-ephemeral messages, though it can take a few hours to days for your download to be ready. Source: Techcrunch
Instagram’s new Data Download feature
Just recently, Instagram allowed users access to its Data Download feature. Instagram users can now access the new tool through their account’s privacy settings. “It lets users export their photos, videos, archived Stories, profile, info, comments, and non-ephemeral messages, though it can take a few hours to days for your download to be ready,” TechCrunch reported.
Although the Data Download is currently only available to everyone on the “web,” app users on iOS and Android will be able to use it soon.
According to TechCrunch, the Data Download gives users access to:
- Profile information
- Archived Stories (those posted after December 2017)
- Post and story captions
- Uploaded contacts
- Usernames of your followers and people you follow
- Direct messages
- Non-ephemeral direct message photos and videos, comments, “Likes,” searches and settings.
Doing the right thing
Although it truly was the “right thing” for Instagram to create its Data Download, TechCrunch pointed out that the social media service was a bit late to the game. According to TechCrunch, Facebook’s download option has been around since 2010.
Instagram’s Data Download option also will help users leave the app without compromising their data.
“[The Date Download] could also deter users from using sketchy third-party apps to scrape all their Instagram content,” TechCrunch reported. “Since they typically require you to log in with your Instagram credentials, these put users at risk of being hacked or having their images used elsewhere without their consent.”
What this means for you
If you ever want to leave Instagram, you can take your data with you in a safe, easy way. And as we all know, maintaining your privacy—and keeping your content—on the internet is incredibly important.
Also, real talk: