How-to save your facebook data

The social media giants have been under increased media scrutiny as the press has latched onto to real and alleged privacy violations.  Facebook has made the cover of the May 31st edition of Time magazine.  Reports today are that facebook, myspace, and others have been sending detailed user information (information that reveals identity) to advertisers.  Lastly, a national quit day for facebook has been organized as a protest to the recent changes to facebook including instant personalization and the universal like button.  The quit day has been gathering steam and press but those who have committed to quitting, only 12,041, represent 0.0000301025% of the 400M users

If you are planning to quit but concerned about losing all of that precious data such as friends contact information and birthdays fear not!

E-mail Addresses
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There are many applications out there that will scrape your profile, these are illegal (against the Terms of Service) and may well get your account locked out before you can actually begin the deactivation & deletion process.  However, there is an alternative that is within Facebook's terms of service and offered specifically to extract contacts from your facebook account.  Yahoo! e-mail service can export your Facebook friend's contact information.  Simply sign up for a Yahoo! e-mail account and then navigate to the contact import landing page: http://address.yahoo.com/?VPC=contact_import_landing and click the facebook icon.  Your contacts will be imported automagically!  To extract your data from Yahoo! services, click on the Tools drop down menu item and then "Export."  Chose an appropriate export format and save the file to your PC.  Note that in your Applications setting page, Yahoo contact importer is now listed.  Your friends privacy permissions will dictate how many email addresses are exported.

Birthdays:

Birthday's are pretty much just as easy to extract from facebook.  There is a popular application called Birthday Exporter.  A simple and straight forward application.  Once you allow the application access to your information, it generates an iCal file which can be used in Outlook, Gmail, Apple iCal, etc.  The file contains the facebook Unique ID (UID) of your friend, a title that includes their name (e.g. "Joe Doe's Birthday"), a URL to their facebook profile, and their date of birth.  Your friends privacy permissions will dictate how many birthdays are exported.

Caveat: I acknowledge that advising someone to install a facebook application that gives that app's owners access to all of their data before they delete their account is somewhat contradictory. 


So now you have your friend's e-mail addresses and birthdays.  Mash them all together in Outlook, iCal, or a web-based service like Yahoo or Gmail.    You control the data now.



PS: Don't forget to delete the applications from your app list if you end up staying on facebook.