Be sure to visit the Norman Public Library Downtown branch Wednesday, May 23, at 6pm. A special discussion about “Facebook, Privacy and You,” will be held, and is sure to be a good one. Call (405) 701-2697 to register.
Remember last week’s column on “digital permanence,” the idea that once something is uploaded, posted, published or otherwise “put on” the Internet, it will be there forever? “What goes on the Internet, stays on the Internet,” so the saying goes.
How would you like to know what’s in your Google file? What if you could find out what Facebook knows (and shares) about you? Videos, blogs, photos, contacts, comments, “likes,” Tweets, website visits, clicks on links, views of YouTube items, Google search terms and results, and, yes, Facebook posts, are all designed to last forever. “Once on the Web, always on the Web.”
To download your Google file, visit http://takeout.google.com/settings/takeout and sign in to your Google account. If you have more than one Google account, as many people do, you will need to sign in and go through the process for each account.
After answering a few questions, Google will create an “archive” of all your data. Pick which of the 32 Google services you want included, including GMail, Google Maps, Calendar, Google Chrome, Classroom, Contacts, Google Drive, Streetview, Photos, Youtube, Search, etc. I chose to have them email me a download link I could click on to download my file. They warn you that it may take a long time (up to a day or so) to receive the link, although mine was ready in about an hour. Once you receive the link, and click on it, it could take a while to download the file, as they can sometimes be huge. Be prepared to wait it out.
The file will download in the .zip format. On a Windows PC, right-click the file and select Extract all. Go with the default location and click Extract. On a Mac, double-click the .zip file and it will extract. From the long list of extracted files that is made, double-click the one called index.html to read your file.
Google warns that downloading your personal information file is not the same as deleting it. As near as I can tell, the only way to delete your file is to close your account and shut it down for good. That’s a pretty drastic move, but if someone wants a “fresh start,” with a presumably clean Google record, that may be what has to happen.
To get some semblance of control over private information that Google may or may not have, visit myaccount.google.com and run both the Security Checkup and Privacy Checkup. You’ll want to carefully review each section here, including the “My Activity” section to turn things around to your advantage.
Facebook keeps a record of pretty much everything you’ve ever done on their playground, and you may want to find out what’s there before someone else does.
To download your Facebook file, sign in to your account and, in the blue Facebook toolbar at the top, click the little triangle all the way at the right end. From the menu that appears, pick Settings, which is near the bottom of the list. At the bottom of the General Account Settings area, click “Download a copy of your Facebook data.”
On the next screen, I chose for my file to contain Everything, in HTML format, with a Media Quality of High. When you are ready, click Create File, then sit back and wait. Facebook will let you know when it’s available, usually “in a few days,” although mine only took about five minutes before it was ready to download.
The file will download in the .zip format. Process it the same way as described above with the Google file. Then, sit back, start reading and brace yourself; you may not like what you find.