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Is it possible to receive copy of deleted private facebook messenger messages under GDPR if two recipients deleted them?

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    This question is a little unclear because it provides very little detail. Who sent the msgs, and who wants a copy under the GDPR? Is anyone in the EU or the UK? It could also use a little editing. Apr 15, 2022 at 15:04

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If Facebook still has a copy of your deleted messages, and if Facebook is able to tell that these messages are your messages, then Facebook should produce a copy of these messages in response to a data subject access request (DSAR).

But the important words are “if” and “should”.

From the outside, it is not possible to tell how Facebook manages deleted messages. When both users delete a message, is this a soft-delete that merely hides a message, or does Facebook actually delete their message from the servers? If the message is actually deleted (which would be a GDPR-compliant approach), then it obviously cannot be produced in response to a DSAR.

The next problem is that Facebook is not known for being a particularly helpful data controller, and often makes it difficult for users to actually exercise their GDPR rights. So even if these messages still exist, it is possible that Facebook would be (illegally) withholding them in a DSAR response. In 2019, Ruben Verborgh chronicled his efforts to exercise a DSAR that goes beyond the incomplete “download my data” tool. It doesn't seem like he ever got the data he sought.

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Just because the two people in the messenger deleted the messages doesn't mean that Facebook deleted them. It just means that the two people in the messenger (assuming there were only two) deleted them. At times when Facebook malfunctions, deleted messages reappear for a short time. This means that FB has them. So it's possible to get pretty much everything we've ever sent via messenger, you just need to convince them to give it to you. May need some kind of warrant or subpoena.

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  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center. Apr 15, 2022 at 15:20
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    The question explicitly asked about GDPR, which requires neither a warrant nor a subpoena for an information request.
    – o.m.
    Apr 15, 2022 at 17:35

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