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How to get all the data Facebook holds on you

Plenty of people wonder how much information Facebook holds about you - but fewer know that, if you live in the European Union, you have a legal right to obtain it.

Unsurprisingly, it's not something Facebook is keen to tell you about, either - which is why the form required to do so is buried away on the social networking site. Campaign group Europe vs Facebook (opens in new tab) plans to change all that, prompting EU citizens to request a copy of all private data that's held about them.

Under European data protection law, individuals have a legal right - the "right to access" - to receive a copy of all personal data that a company holds on them. And Facebook Ireland Limited, Facebook's European holding company, has a legal duty to supply every this information to European Facebook user - and, indeed, non-user - who requests it.

Europe vs Facebook warns that a bit of persistence is required. It claims requests by letter are simply ignored, and that email requests are often initially met with replies explaining how to log into the site, or simply ignored. If you continue to experience such problems, the advice is to write to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner here.

What you'll need before you begin your request is a scan of an official document such as your passport or driver's licence - Facebook isn't allowed to release the information unless it's sure of your identity. These details will also have to match the data held on Facebook - so if you've used a fake date of birth, you'll need to correct that before you can begin your request.

Now fill out the form on Facebook's right to access request page here (opens in new tab). Under the law under which you're requesting the data, enter 'Section 4 DPA' or 'Art. 12 Directive 95/46/EG'. You'll also need to attach the scanned image of your ID documentation.

Once Facebook receives your request, under Irish law it has 40 days to deliver a CD containing the information. You may be amazed at how much data the company holds on individual users - Europe vs Facebook warns that the PDF containing your data on the disc could stretch to more than 1,000 pages and 100MB in size.

And let us know how you get on! monitors all leading technology stories and rounds them up to help you save time hunting them down.