Do you have an interest in scraping user profiles or any user-generated content such as posts, comments, images, and even videos from Facebook? Then come in now and see how to scrape them and the best Facebook scrapers in the market.
Facebook is a huge database of user-generated content. If you know what you are doing, data from Facebook can be used to better understand your audience for business and political gains. This can be seen from how Cambridge Analytica uses users’ profile data and generated posts to create psychographic profiles for the purpose of campaigns. Researchers can use users’ posts or post in groups and comments to carry out sentimental analysis and discover the intent of a user or a group of users. The thing is, there is a whole lot of things you can do with data from Facebook.
However, getting your hand on the required data is the problem. Facebook provides an API for collecting user-profiles and user-generated content on their platform, but the truth is this – it is very limiting and restrictive by nature that you can’t use the collected data for what you need data for. The only option available to you is to scrape the required data using a Facebook data scraping tool popularly known as Facebook scrapers. If you have coding skills, you can develop one yourself, and if you don’t, you have to use already made tools in the market.
Before making recommendations on the best tools to use and how to go about scraping Facebook, let take a look at an overview of scraping Facebook.
Facebook Scraping – an Overview
Facebook is not your regular website with a limited budget. Facebook, as a company, has a huge budget, and thousands of staff and a good number of these are dedicated to preventing spam on their platforms. The truth is, scraping Facebook is not an easy task, and a good number of web scrapers give up on the idea of scraping Facebook after so many failed attempts.
This is because Facebook has a very strong anti-bot system in place, which goes much more than just IP tracking. Facebook has suffered a lot of backlash from users anytime huge user data is collected from their platform. The biggest and being the Facebook – Cambridge Analytica data scandal.
Because of the lost and backlashes, Facebook has tightened its anti-bot system to prevent scrapers and crawlers from accessing its site, and as such, scraping Facebook at a reasonable scale is a difficult task that will cost you a lot of money.
Even when successful, you risk getting the hammer of the Facebook legal team on you – and this could mean you paying a huge sum of money to even getting a jail term depending on what you use the collected data for. Even with these risks in place, businesses and researchers are still scraping Facebook unnoticed. If you also want to partake in the scraping, then be my guest and continue reading.
How to Scrape Facebook Using Python, Requests, and BeautifulSoup
Below is a Python code meant for scraping textual data from Facebook Groups. It is a very basic code that does not scrape images, videos, and even the name of the post authors – just the texts. It also does not incorporate the use of proxies. It uses Requests for downloading the page and BeautifulSoup for parsing. Of course, for a reasonable project, you need to take care of proxies, pagination, and exception handling.
Before you run the code below, make sure you have installed Requests and BeautifulSoup. If you haven’t, use the pip
command for installing Requests – and
pip install beautifulsoup4
for installing BeautifulSoup. You can change the id of the group to any other group, and the texts in that group will be scrapped.
import requests from bs4 import BeautifulSoup class FBGroupScraper: def __init__(self, group_id): self.group_id = group_id self.page_url = "https://mobile.facebook.com/groups/" + self.group_id self.page_content = "" def get_page_content(self): self.page_content = requests.get(self.page_url).text def parse(self): soup = BeautifulSoup(self.page_content, "html.parser") feed_container = soup.find(id="m_group_stories_container").find_all("p") for i in feed_container: print(i.text) group_id = "1463546523692520" d = FBGroupScraper(group_id) d.get_page_content() d.parse()
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Best Facebook Scrapers
If you can’t develop a Facebook scraper yourself that can evade blocks, then using an already made solution is the way to go. There are many already-made Facebook scrapers in the market you can use for your scraping task. While some are free, I usually do not advise people to use them as they are either restrictive or are not as efficient as they should.
Paid Facebook scrapers are the best. This is because the developers are compensated financially and, as such, works in the best way possible to keep the scrapers functional. Below are some of the best Facebook scrapers in the market.
- Pricing: Starts at $500 for 151K page loads
- Free Trials: Available
- Data Output Format: Excel
- Supported Platforms: web-based
Bright Data’s Data Collector is arguably one of the best Facebook scrapers you can use to scrape data from Facebook. This tool is accessible online and has support for downloading the scraped data.
Data Collector has about 5 Facebook scrapers which include Facebook profile scraper, post scraper, product scraper by keyword, and Facebook organization scraper for collecting organization profile data.
You do not need coding skills to use this tool. If you need to scrape other Facebook data, you can contact them to request a custom collector. Data Collector pricing is based on a friendly pay-as-you-go. However, you will need to add funds to your account.
- Pricing: Starts at $29 per month for 50,000 credits
- Free Trials: first 1000 requests
- Data Output Format: JSON
- Supported Platforms: cloud-based – accessed via API
The Facebook scraper provided by Proxycrawl is a unique Facebook scraper when compared with the ones above. This is because unlike the ones above that are either installable software or a cloud-based platform, this Facebook scraper is a scraping API.
It works as a RESTful API. What this means is that you can incorporate this into your code and use the returned/scrapped data right away – as it is built for developers. With this tool, you can extract data from Facebook groups, including contents in their feeds and their associated comments – all by just sending an HTTP request.
- Pricing: Starts at $49 per month for 100 Actor compute units
- Free Trials: Starter plan comes with 10 Actor compute units
- Data Output Format: JSON
- Supported OS: cloud-based – accessed via API
Apify is a known web scraping tool provider. Aside from its own tool, it also hosts users’ tools that you can use for your web scraping tasks. One such tool is the Facebook Pages Scraper, which you can use to scrape public profile information from Facebook pages. It can help you extract posts, reviews, and comments, among other things, from Facebook pages.
It is available as an API, just like the Facebook Scraper on Proxycrawl. It is easy to use and requires you to send HTTP requests to its endpoints, and responses are sent back as JSON objects.
- Pricing: Starts at $30 per month – 1 hour per day
- Free Trials: 14 days of free trial – 10 minutes per day
- Data Output Format: CSV, Excel, JSON
- Supported OS: Windows, Mac, Linux
Phantom Buster is a company that develops automation tools for automating tasks on social media and scraping data off them. The Facebook Group Extractor is a specialized Facebook scraper. It has support for scraping user-generated content in Facebook communities and groups.
With this tool, you can scrape profiles of members of Facebook groups and the posts in such groups. Just like the tools above, it is a paid tool. However, Phantom Buster provides a 14 days free trial option for new users to test their service, which you can actually use for the task at hand. It is a cloud-based tool.
Octoparse (for Non-coders)
- Pricing: Starts at $75 per month
- Free Trials: 14 days of free trial with limitations
- Data Output Format: CSV, Excel, JSON, MySQL, SQLServer
- Supported Platform: Cloud, Desktop
Octoparse is arguably one of the best web scrapers in the market today. With it, you can scrape virtually all kinds of websites with Facebook being one of the sites you can scrape. The scraping tool even has Facebook scraping templates ready for use, which makes it easier for you to scrape data from Facebook without building a scrape profile from scratch.
Octoparse is quite fast, efficient, and reliable. It is available as both a cloud-based platform as well as an installable desktop application. Octoparse is paid but has a free trial option available. However, you cannot use the Facebook template with their free trial plan.
- Pricing: Starts at $49.99 per month
- Free Trials: Starter plan is free – comes with limitations
- Data Output Format: TXT, CSV, Excel, JSON, MySQL, Google Sheets, etc.
- Supported Platforms: Desktop
ScrapeStorm, just like Octoparse, is not a specialized Facebook scraping tool. However, when it comes to scraping data from Facebook, ScrapeStorm has proven to be one of the best Facebook scrapers you can use in the market right now. The tool is easy to use and comes with a visual point and click interface for training the tool on the data to be scrapped.
What makes it perfect for scraping Facebook user-generated data is its intelligent data recognition function. ScrapeStorm is built by an ex-Google crawler team, and as such, they know how to evade anti-scraping techniques put in place by big websites such as Facebook and Google.
Make no mistake about it, scraping Facebook is difficult and requires a great deal of engineering, proper planning, and execution for it to work out. If you know you can’t meet up with what’s required to successfully scrape Facebook, then the only option left is to use an already made Facebook scraper in the market. Above is a list of Facebook scrapers that have been tested and have proven to work.