Last night, TechCrunch reported that Google will now require sites that import e-mail addresses from Gmail to also allow export of their data. The move was clearly aimed at Facebook, which has kept Google from accessing their users’ data. In response, many people have mentioned that while Facebook lets users download some data, they’re still not able to download an e-mail address book of their Facebook contacts.
However, that’s not quite the case. Back in March, I published a guide to exporting data from Facebook using various tricks and FQL queries. Facebook has since made changes and added tools which have made the post a bit outdated, but much of the information still applies. In particular, I described using Yahoo’s contact import tool to download an e-mail address book for all your Facebook friends. This technique relies on a Facebook-approved feature and should not violate the site’s terms of service. A few specific steps have changed a bit, so I’ll recap the process here.
First, you need to have a Yahoo! Mail account. If you don’t already have one, you can create one for free. In fact, I’d advise creating a new account to avoid your Facebook friends’ e-mail addresses getting mixed up with any others already in your address book.
To add your friends’ e-mail addresses to your Yahoo! Address Book, follow the steps given on this page at the Yahoo! Mail blog. Essentially, you open Contacts, click on “Tools,” then “Import,” choose “Facebook,” and follow the steps. You will have to authorize a Facebook application built by Yahoo! for this purpose.
To save a local copy of these addresses, you can use the export tools in Yahoo! Address Book. Return to your Contacts, once again click “Tools,” and this time select “Export.” You’ll be presented with a list of programs, each with an “Export Now” button.
If you’re not sure which you should choose, I would recommend clicking the button next to Microsoft Outlook. You may have to enter a code a CAPTCHA code, but you’ll then be prompted to save a file in CSV format. This is a fairly standard way of saving contact information.
Once you’ve downloaded the file, you can use it to import your contacts into other places, including Outlook. You can also open the file in Microsoft Excel to view the contact list or make changes.