A Look at Data Access on Major Social Media Platforms

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There has been much talk about how Facebook handles user data. The company has been in the headlines often for its choices. But how easy is it to take a look at and download your own data on Facebook or any other social media platform?

Mashable took a look at many of the social media platforms to see how much data access is within the user’s control. Here’s a look at how easy it is to obtain your information from the major social media platforms in descending order.

Google/YouTube

News Social Media Data Access Google

For all the flak in what Google or its division YouTube does with your data, it leaves a lot of it in your control as far as seeing what they have on you. You just need to go to what they refer to as “Google Takeout.”

First, access your account settings and click “Data and Personalization.” Scroll down to “Download your data” to take you to Google Takeout. Here you’ll find your Google Search history, YouTube videos, Google Maps locations, Android settings, etc. You can export all of that data or only what you want from certain services.

Facebook

News Social Media Data Access Facebook

The option to request your data is found under “Your Facebook Information” in your settings. You can request any of the data they have or only what you want to export. This includes posts, photos and videos, comments, events, every ad you’ve interacted with, etc.

You can also select the date range of the data you’re requesting and choose whether you want an HTML or JSON export and the quality of the media. If you so choose, you can download a link to every post, comment, and page you have ever interacted with.

LinkedIn

News Social Media Data Access Linkedin

You can export LinkedIn data by clicking on “Settings and Privacy” under the account menu. Then, under the “Privacy” tab, scroll down to “Getting a Copy of Your Data.” You can get a complete archive of all your data or just some of it, section by section.

If you choose a full archive, LinkedIn will send you a download link within 10 minutes that contains CSV files with your profile, first-degree connections, resumé, and your full inbox. You’ll then receive a second link within 24 hours that contains everything else.

Twitter

News Social Media Data Access Twitter

Twitter will quickly compile your data request in just ten minutes. The data package includes your account information, full tweet archive, uploaded media archive, “Likes,” following and follower lists, DM history, advertiser data, etc.

Not only do you get a link to the tweets you liked but the full text of each of those tweets. It provides a ZIP file that contains JSON files. Followers are listed by their numerical user ID instead of their username, which makes it somewhat less usable, yet you can still link to their profile to see who it is. The DM history also lists the Twitter user ID.

Snapchat

News Social Media Data Access Snapchat

Requesting your Snapchat data will take you to a mobile-friendly site. There you’ll find details on what is available from within the app. It shows what would be included, such as account information, login history, recent snap and chat history, friends list, etc.

This downloads in a ZIP file and contains HTML files. A file that lists links to download all of your saved memories is included as well.

WhatsApp

News Social Media Data Access Whatsapp

You can request your WhatsApp data in the Settings menu under Account in the app. Tapping “Request Report,” however, means you’ll have to wait three days for the data to be ready. Settings, profile information, and group names will all be included, but it does not include chat history.

Chat history is included in a separate step and is different depending on the device you’re using. There are also options to create full backups to restore your chat history at a later time and the ability to export the specific messages of a chat via email or TXT file.

Instagram

News Social Media Data Access Instagram

Instagram data can be found in “Settings” under “Privacy and Security,” and the turnaround for the ZIP file is no more than 48 hours. The package includes account information, follow lists, search history, easy-to-follow DM conversation history, comments, and all photos and videos you have posted.

It does provide your “Like” history, with a link to each thing you have liked, but it only lists the user and the time of the post, without the context of what was liked.

TikTok

News Social Media Data Access Tiktok

This is the most disappointing of all. The parent company of TIkTok, ByteDance, has been fined by the FTC in the United States and is under investigation in the EU for GDPR violations, based on how it collects children’s data.

On top of that, there is no way to collect user data unless you live in California, and that’s only provided because of the California Consumer Privacy Act law that went into effect last year. Once a calendar year you may be entitled to information that was shared with businesses.

What Will You Do with this Data?

Unfortunately, none of these methods for data access provide you a way to control the data that is being kept on you. However, at least you can find out what is being kept, and if you are uncomfortable with it, you can end your association with that social media company.

Do you plan to take a look at the data being saved on your social media accounts with these data access options? What will you do with it? Tell us below in the comments.

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.

One comment

  1. “Unfortunately, none of these methods for data access provide you a way to control the data that is being kept on you.”
    And therein lies the problem.

    “if you are uncomfortable with it, you can end your association with that social media company”
    Big, Fat, Hairy Deal! Once the social media company has your data, they could not care less about your continued membership. Ending your association is like locking the barn after the horse has fled.

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