Facebook's 'Download Your Information' Feature Has A Memory Lapse

Earlier this month, Facebook announced the launch of a new feature called “Download Your Information”. The feature is fairly self-explanatory: hit a button, and Facebook will compile an archive of all the data you’ve ever uploaded to the site — photos, videos, messages, and more — which you can download in a handy Zip file for archival purposes. Given how much content people are storing on Facebook these days this is great news, but it’s got one catch: your archive will be missing anything that appeared on your Facebook Wall prior to mid-2006.

The Wall has long been one of Facebook’s most popular features, allowing friends to leave each other brief notes and links in a semi-public area, and in the days before News Feed it was the main way people interacted with each other on the site. I’d looked forward to reliving (or at least, skimming) the birthday greetings, lewd jokes, and awkward invites left on my profile in days of yore, so I was a bit miffed when my stroll down memory lane was cut short.

But most people on Facebook won’t care. While the site currently has over 500 million users, in summer 2006 the total was more like 10 million, so this only affects, at most, around 2% of the current userbase. And the Wall is the only feature that’s affected — your messages and photos are all intact regardless of when they were posted.

So why is Facebook cutting off Wall content posted before summer 2006? The feature is relatively ancient by Facebook standards, launching back in September 2004 when the site was still restricted to college students. It comes as little surprise that the Wall has been re-architected multiple times through the years, and it apparently isn’t trivial for the site to access content posted prior to summer 2006 (you’ll notice that even if you manually scroll down your Wall instead of relying on the ‘Download Your Information’ archive, it will still cut off around this time).

A Facebook spokesperson says that the company will “continue to evaluate this as we get more usage and feedback”, which makes me think that if enough people complain they could do the legwork to offer your entire Wall. Given that few people seem to have noticed the omission so far though, I’m doubting that’s going to happen.

Image by PYoakum on Flickr