Studying Facebook and Instagram data: The Digital Footprints software

  • Anja Bechmann Aarhus University
  • Peter Bjerregaard Vahlstrup Aarhus University
Keywords: API, social media, digital social sciences, digital humanities


The aim of this article is to discuss methodological implications and challenges in different kinds of deep and big data studies of Facebook and Instagram through methods involving the use of Application Programming Interface (API) data. This article describes and discusses Digital Footprints (, a data extraction and analytics software that allows researchers to extract user data from Facebook and Instagram data sources; public streams as well as private data with user consent. Based on insights from the software design process and data driven studies the article argues for three main challenges: Data quality, data access and analysis, and legal and ethical considerations.

Author Biographies

Anja Bechmann, Aarhus University
Associate Professor, Department of Media and Journalism
Peter Bjerregaard Vahlstrup, Aarhus University
Teaching Assistant Professor, Department of IT and Information Studies
How to Cite
Bechmann, A., & Vahlstrup, P. B. (2015). Studying Facebook and Instagram data: The Digital Footprints software. First Monday, 20(12).