This semester, I am teaching a graduate seminar on qualitative research methods. Last week’s topic was using social media data. Though there is a ton of data on social media platforms that is potentially valuable for qualitative researchers, that data can sometimes be surprisingly difficult to view and save, even when it’s otherwise public.
This is especially the case with Facebook. It can be difficult to view even public pages on Facebook if you are not logged into your account or don’t have an account. There are many cases where you might not want to log in first. And creating sock puppet accounts can be a laborious process, which might run afoul of your institution’s IRB rules too. But if you’re not logged in, you will get a bunch of pop-up page elements asking you to log in. They block your view of the page and junk up–that’s a technical term 🙂 –the saved copy too.
So, how to view and save a local copy of a public Facebook page for your research? One technique you can use is to use an ad blocker extension to block those annoying page elements. In this tutorial, I walk you through how to use UBlock Origin to block those unwanted page elements, allowing you to view and save a copy of a public Facebook page.
This technique will be of use to those undertaking qualitative research using Facebook data. It might also be of use to those doing open source intelligence (OSINT) investigations using Facebook.
UPDATE: 18 March 2021
Twitter user @banpangar shared the following technique in response to my post.
With this method, you can block both login popups at once and it appears that the block will persist when you reload the page or visit another page. This is a great find! I had tried something similar, but I was not targeting the right class name in the code of the site for that popup. I had found, as a result, that blocking the lower popup was more effective.
This is more evidence that in qualitative research and in OSINT too, there’s usually more than one way to do a task. Go with what works for you and your needs, but always be open to other, potentially better ways of doing things. Finally, show your work! When you do, someone like @banpangar might just come along and teach you something you didn’t know before.