Most Facebook users have become so accustomed to working on the “corporate plantation” as "digital sharecroppers" that they lose any interest in controlling their own digital lives and content. It is a welcome development, therefore, to see enterprising souls like Owen Mundy develop a free app that lets people reclaim their data from their Facebook accounts.
Give Me My Data, which is officially in “public-beta” release, is an attempt to give social network users control over their own stuff. You might want to delete your account but retain your accumulated postings, for example. Or you might want to get around the Facebook interface, archive your content or perhaps make artwork from it. The content can be exported into a variety of common formats.
Give Me My Data is not only a useful free software tool (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license), it’s a way of sending a signal to the corporate goliath Facebook that users have some choices and just might decide to go elsewhere. Mundy sees his app as a vehicle for public education: “While clearly utilitarian,” he writes, “this project intervenes into online user experiences, provoking users to take a critical look at their interactions within social networking websites. It suggests data is tangible and challenges users to think about ways in which their information is used for purposes outside of their control by government or corporate entities."