Facebook data mining with web scraping

Theo Vasilis
Theo Vasilis
Table of Contents

Facebook data mining lets you dive deeper into market demographics, helps you to offer products based on people’s personal choices, and makes it possible to identify consumer behavior. But data mining can’t happen without web scraping. Find out why you need a Facebook scraper for Facebook mining.

Facebook mining

What is data mining?

Data mining is the process of analyzing information to identify patterns and trends in order to make data-driven decisions. It‘s often conflated with web scraping, which is the process of extracting such data from the web. While people do use the term data mining to mean both data extraction and data analysis, the key difference is that data mining is what follows data extraction. In other words: you can scrape web data without mining it, but you can’t mine web data without scraping it.

In a nutshell

What’s the difference between web scraping and data mining?

Web scraping = data extraction
Data mining = data analysis

Data mining social media

So, why do people mine social media? Because it helps business owners to dive deeper into market demographics. Data mining Facebook groups and profiles, for example, enables organizations to offer products or services based on people’s personal choices, life events, and key goals. They can identify preferred products, spending patterns, and consumer behavior and help to better understand the consumer and create a personalized bond. Facebook or Instagram data mining can help to formulate the ideal consumer persona, forecast emerging market trends, and gain a competitive edge over similar businesses.

Scraping and mining social media data is legal, but that’s not to say you can accumulate personal data without having a legal basis for doing so. Keep your web scraping and data mining legal and ethical by crawling and extracting only publicly available information.

Did you know?

Some websites include a prohibition of web scraping in their Terms of Use, but they are legally binding only if they meet the standards of a valid contract.

👉 Read about the 4 types of website terms of use in contract law and find out if they can be enforced.

What data can I extract from Facebook?

With a Facebook scraping tool, you can crawl, extract and mine all publicly available data from Facebook pages, such as:

  • posts
  • likes
  • comments
  • reviews
  • contact details
  • profiles
  • addresses

What are the most effective tools to mine Facebook data?

There are two ways you can scrape data for Facebook mining:

a) The Facebook API
b) A Facebook web scraper

Data mining with the Facebook API

The Facebook API gives developers access to core elements of Facebook functionality. It provides a way to retrieve information about a user, showing their recently uploaded photos or accessing information about friends who use the same application. This enables applications to provide richer social experiences to their users based on the data that Facebook already has about that person.

This functionality is implemented by showing the user a dialog that tells them which parts of their data the application would like to access, asking the user to either authorize or deny permission to the application. If the user accepts, the application is supplied with an "access token". This token encodes information, such as the application's unique identifier on Facebook, and the elements of the user's data that the application has been allowed to access.

The token must be supplied to the Facebook API for validation every time a request is made for user data. Access tokens are only valid for a relatively short period of time, so a method is provided for an application to supply an old access token in exchange for a new one. This means that if the user were to revoke the permission that the application had to access their data, the request for a new access token will be denied and the application will no longer have access to that user‘s data.

Did you know?

Apify can turn any website into an API. In other words, we APIfy everything! So, whenever you think of using an API, think Apify!

Facebook scrapers for data mining

The Facebook API is quite restrictive. Facebook’s rate limits are strictly enforced, so you won’t be able to extract a lot of information in a short period of time and you can easily get your API key blocked.

Thankfully, there‘s a better option: you can use a ready-made Facebook scraper that can extract data for Facebook mining. Apify has a range of scrapers built for Facebook data collection:

1. Facebook Page Posts Checker

Facebook Page Posts Checker provides fast and easy scraping for Facebook page posts. No residential proxies are required. Posts are sorted by time, from newest to oldest.

2. Facebook Post Comments

Use this Facebook data extractor to collect Facebook comments from public post URLs for Facebook data mining.

3. Facebook Latest Posts Scraper

This Facebook data extractor scrapes the latest Facebook posts with comments from one or multiple page URLs. Get post and comment texts, timestamps, post URLs, likes, shares, comment counts, and author IDs.

4. Facebook Latest Comments Scraper

Like the Latest Posts Scraper, this data scraping tool extracts the latest Facebook comments from one or multiple post URLs. You can collect comment texts and counts, likes and shares, timestamps, and author IDs.

5. Facebook Page Contact Information

Use this Facebook data scraper to mine Facebook page addresses, emails, likes, websites, check-ins, and phone information.

This Facebook scraping tool lets you extract data based on locations, categories, and keywords.

How to mine data from Facebook

All of the above Facebook scrapers automate your data collection and let you download the data in multiple formats: HTML table, Excel, JSON, CSV, XML, and RSS feed. To get that data, all you need to do is follow these steps:

  1. Go to Apify Store for the Facebook scraper you want to use
  2. Click on Try for free
  3. Insert the URL you want to scrape in the input field
  4. Click Start to begin data collection
  5. Go to the Storage tab to download your data

As we said at the start, you can’t mine web data before you‘ve scraped it. With Apify’s web scrapers, you can get all the data you need quickly and easily for your Facebook mining and other data mining projects.

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