How to export your Facebook group members’ data and comply with GDPR

Facebook’s changing attitude to data privacy can make GDPR compliance tricky.

If you don’t set your group up properly in the first place you are going to have all sorts of trouble if you want to export group members data when you close a group or want to add members to your mailing lists.

Facebook group GDPR

Main ways business owners use Facebook groups

There are two main ways business owners use Facebook groups: –

  1. Prospect or common interests groups whose first point of contact with us is by joining the group.
  2. To support customers or subscribers whose data we routinely hold outside Facebook

Facebook for prospects

Your first point of contact with those members is via Facebook and you are building a community to engage with your business or your brand in the hope of future sales.

Facebook is clear that it is your job as a group manager to obtain consent from users if you want to use their data outside the group. Their policy can be found here.

You have a number of ways you can do this, but remember if your members are in the UK/EU/EEA then you cannot make them agree to join a mailing list in order to join the group.

Facebook and GDPR are two sets of requirements. You will need to make yourself familiar with what is being shared to you via Facebook, and the extra rules for GDPR where this is affecting you. You can find them here

In plain English this means you need to:

  1. Get consent before adding them to a mailing list. You can ask for this when you are setting up your pre-joining questions but it is not a good idea to make it a condition of joining.
  2. Let people know if you are backing up/exporting information from the group to other platforms (which would not include a mailing list which needs consent.
  3. Let them know where your data privacy policy can be found, which will explain more about who you share data with and how you use it.

One way to do this is to set up questions before joining. You can find out more about how to do this here.

Facebook group rules specifically say you cannot use bots or automated ways of list scraping.

You will also need to make sure any data you do collect is properly secured, not shared with 3rd parties without the appropriate consents or notifications, and removed appropriately. If you are working on the basis of consent you will need to remove that data if consent is withdrawn.

Exporting from Facebook

There are very few options within Facebook that give you effective data exporting from your groups.

To do this you usually need to use a third-party app. This is pretty close to list scraping, which is a breach of Facebook’s policies and could get you into trouble and get your Facebook account suspended.

If you are using an app to back up your group contents this will be different, but because of the nature of Facebook this would inevitably mean sharing personal data since group members usually post via their own name and personal Facebook account.

This would also mean you are sharing your group member’s data with a third party. You should be extremely careful about this. Firstly your members should know you are doing this, and secondly you must check out that the information is not staying inside a 3rd party application or being shared elsewhere. For most of us that is above our technical and IT pay grade and we have no functional way of checking this out.

Facebook, trust and your brand

Facebook itself does not have the level of trust it once had. Scandals on data sharing followed by abuse of the medium and a lock down of who can post content has made a number of group owners think about exporting from Facebook and starting again.

But if your members do not expect you to use your data elsewhere, you run the risk of damaging your own reputation as a safe place for your customer’s data.

If your customers are in the UK/EU this can also be a breach of data privacy/GDPR laws and if you have a large group a large breach can cause major fines.

Facebook group data sharing

There are two ways to use Facebook data outside of Facebook. The first is to set up your group properly (see earlier) with rules and notices so that group members can see clearly what you intend to do.

If you have already got a group and not done this then you may want to consider

  1. Posting inside your group invitations to join your email list (with appropriate lead magnets to make this attractive). You can make this an announcement and a pinned post to get some attention.
  2. Setting up a series of scheduled posts so that at least once a week (depending on how rapidly your group grows) you send an invitation
  3. Having a blog where your content is written and hosted and sharing that content to your group. This means your content will not be lost if you close your group.
  4. Having a pop up on that blog inviting people to subscribe to your newsletter.

Facebook should not be your only strategy

Social media platforms come and go over time. Their audiences change, in terms of demographics as well as numbers. It is never a good idea to set up your marketing and brand awareness to rely on one platform.

Having direct connection with your prospects and customers as well as social media connections will help you monitor the effectiveness of your marketing and make sure you can reach your audience if something goes wrong.

Facebook can suspend you or ban you – as can Twitter or LinkedIn. And your audience can suddenly shift to a new place from Instagram to TikTok. Who knows where they will be next year.

Never leave yourself a hostage to fortune.

And don’t put yourself in the situation where you have to hack your own groups to keep your business going.

Facebook for customers

If you have a Facebook group for customers then your life is a lot easier because you already have their details (and you know what they bought) and they will (hopefully) have already seen your data privacy policy when they shared their details with you in the first place.

Does this apply to you?

There are more than 20 counties in the world with rules about data privacy.  EU GDPR applies wherever you are in the world if you are handling EU Citizens data.  And no-one can be sure which Facebook rules are being applied and how as they change everything so rapidly.

GDPR does not have to be painful

A lot of GDPR and data privacy compliance is about understanding when you need to do what.  If you set things up properly in the first place things will usually be much easier than if you have to figure it all out at the end.

If you’d like to know more about this (in language we can all understand) join one of our free virtual events .  They are listed here


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