As family historians, we all love those nostalgic little newspapers that demonstrate the small details of our ancestor’s life. You know those first quaint papers .....the ones that told us who sold their tractor to who, and who shared Sunday dinner together, and who had family to town for a visit. Why do we love those papers? ..... because they reveal our ancestors as they really were, past their dry vital statistics, they demonstrated the small everyday moments in their lives.
Today we have little to compare to those papers. Most small town papers are gone, and if they aren’t they are mostly filled with regurgitated material sent across the wires. They certainly aren’t documenting how I celebrated the long weekend, or how my wisdom tooth surgery went last week (painfully). Then it occurred to me.... there is a medium that provides these daily doses of life....Facebook.
This brought me to thinking about those years of posts accumulated on Facebook. All those moments that make up a life.....bragging about your daughter getting accepted into University.... discussing your vacations plans..... or what colour you will paint the bathroom next week. All great moments of a life captured on a Facebook page. Facebook is actually journaling our day to day lives. That led me to wonder how we could preserve those posts for future generations.
You may not think that the bits of information we post on Facebook will be of little importance to your Great Grandchildren. Let’s think about this....how important would you think if your past Great-Grandmother had been sharing the up and downs of her everyday life in a journal. You would be mad to have that information in your hand. So how can we put this same information into our descendant’s hands?
I looked into it. Under account settings, click on Download your Information....This tool will assemble all your information for you in a zip file that you can download and simply search. This could take awhile. Once this is done, the Facebook people will send you an email requesting your password before they release it to you. Here is what they will provide you in your download.
§ Your profile information (e.g., your contact information, interests, groups)
§ Wall posts and content that you and your friends have posted to your profile
§ Photos and videos that you have uploaded to your account
§ Your friend list
§ Notes you have created
§ Events to which you have RSVP’d
§ Your sent and received messages
§ Any comments that you and your friends have made on your Wall posts, photos, and other profile content
Many people have memorialized a friend or family member’s facebook page after their death. This is a wonderful way to pay tribute to the passing of a family member or a friend. However, once a page is memorialized all posts are removed. That is a shame, because those posts are the windows into that person’s day-to-day life. Therefore, whether you plan to download your Facebook information for your future generations or grant a friend or family member your password, you may also want to leave instructions on whether you wish to have your page memorialized.
If your family chooses to turn a facebook page into a memorial page, you can request this by clicking here, you will lose all posts, I would suggest downloading the information prior to changing a Facebook page becoming a memorial.
Of course, we also don’t know how long Facebook will be around for, just as those quaint little newspapers have disappeared, Facebook will disappear or change at some point. What will it be replaced with?....and if so what will happen to your years of information?
Just know that each day you post the details of your life on your Facebook page, you are creating a journal online, so just be sure to download your zip file for your future descendants.