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How to get your Instagram data, and what I found when I downloaded mine

See what the social media account has on you

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Not surprisingly, Instagram has followed Facebook in giving its users access to the data the social media account has on them. Since Instagram is owned by Facebook (bought in 2012 for $1 billion), this was bound to be the next step for the site following Facbook's scandal with Cambridge Analytica and the privacy breach of at least 87 million Facebook users.

Instagram users don't have as many options for uploading content or connecting to others as Facebook. It's a far more streamlined site, which makes it more, or less, appealing to users.

I didn't expect Instagram to have as much on me as Facebook, but I was a bit surprised to see my entire Contacts list there. I suppose I gave Instagram permission at some point to see that information, but what was even more fascinating was the list wasn't in any kind of order, at least to my eye.

The names were displayed as last, then first names — and they weren't in alphabetical order, nor people I connect to on Instagram or Facebook. In one case I didn't even recognize the name at all: this person wasn't in my phone contacts, wasn't a friend on Facebook, nor even someone I followed on Instagram, or someone who followed me. I still don't know who they are and, yes, I ran a Google search on them.

Eleven files came through my download, and except for my photos and videos, everything else came in a plain text file. Photo files were broken into months, for example, the photos from this month in April were in a folder labeled "201804." I could see comments I'd made, and the exact time and day when I posted them. I could also see what Instagram calls my "connections" — but they don't break out if I'm following someone, or they're following me.

To find the download link, you need to follow these steps. Instagram will tell you it could take up to 48 hours before you can get your information. My data downloaded within an hour or two:

  1. Click on your profile link.
  2. Open your account settings, which is done by clicking on the spoked wheel to the right of "Edit Profile"
  3. Open "Privacy and Security"
  4. Scroll down to "Data Download" and click on "Request Download"

The download is sent to the email address you used to registered your Instagram account.


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