Facebook scraping has recently become more popular. Tools required for such a process have become more ubiquitous and accessible. Previously you had to build a Facebook scraper from scratch, but nowadays it’s possible to get a provider that takes care of the development process.
As such, more and more people start scraping Facebook for various reasons. Most of them have a profit incentive, but there has been interest from academic researchers and non-profits as well.
Whatever your personal reason may be, getting started with Facebook scraping isn’t an easy task. Even with all the tools available, it can be confusing on what can be scraped and what could land you in trouble.
Is it legal to scrape Facebook?
It’s complicated. Scraping Facebook is certainly against their Terms of Service. They even disallow any scraping in robots.txt (a file used to indicate access rules to bots). As such, any automated data collection breaks their Terms of Service.
In any case, you could potentially attempt to get express written permission from Facebook. Using a data scraper would then be allowed. We don’t know of anyone, however, who has successfully acquired such a license.
You can still technically use automation tools, however, and there’s certainly businesses and individuals doing so on a daily basis. Do we recommend it? No, because it can land you in trouble. Yet, there have been arguments and cases indicating that publicly accessible and non-copyrighted data is fair game.
We can only give one piece of advice. Always consult your lawyer first. They will give you legal advice. We cannot.
Why scrape Facebook?
Scraping Facebook is attractive for numerous reasons. Primarily, businesses look for any enticing data that may be useful. They may look for market trends indicated through people’s comments about products or services. Other businesses may opt to scrape data that would help them find suitable customers.
There’s numerous other use cases involving general business analysis (such as competitor monitoring) for which a Facebook scraper may be used. Additionally, some may collect data for non-profit, research, or many other purposes.
Facebook is a collection of valuable, but scattered data. If all of it is aggregated, there’s plenty of value in it. Even if the value lies in selling it to a third party. As such, a specialized Facebook scraping tool is used to collect all of the scattered data and turn it into something valuable.
5 tools for scraping data from Facebook
One final note before we head on to our Facebook scraper list - you can always build a custom solution. There are plenty of tutorials and coding guides that will help you create a rudimentary Facebook scraper. While they may not be suitable to retrieve data at scale, they’ll certainly be more than enough for a small project.
Pricing: Starts at $29 per month.
Proxycrawl is an API solution for scraping data from numerous sources. One of their flagship solutions is a Facebook scraper used to retrieve various data. Proxycrawl requires no local installation as they host all the processes in-house and simply return the data.
As such, using Proxycrawl will require minimal coding experience. It’s not a browser extension or something of the like. You will have to write some code that will send requests to their endpoint in order to get data.
While it does take some setting up, the flexibility provided is immense. It can scrape all kinds of Facebook data. Octoparse will most likely be used for scraping user-generated content, however, there’s basically no limitations on what you can acquire.
As such, it’s a tool that can be used for collecting user profiles, extracting information from Facebook groups, etc. While we can’t recommend doing everything they can, it’s certainly one of the more powerful tools out there.
Finally, as it’s a Facebook pages scraper for developers, not a lot of time has been spent on building shiny user interfaces or anything like that. As a result, the pricing is a great reflection of focusing on function over form as it’s highly competitive and accessible to nearly any business or individual.
- Free plan available.
- Standard - $75 per month (annual billing); $89 per month (monthly billing).
- Professional - $209 per month (annual billing); $249 per month (monthly billing).
- Enterprise - custom pricing.
Octoparse, on the other hand, is one of the web scrapers intended for people without any coding experience. They have both a locally installed tool, which works in a click-and-scrape manner, and a cloud-based tool, which is used for large-scale scraping.
As the company purportedly has the capabilities of scraping data from nearly any website, you can definitely scrape Facebook with it. There are major differences, however, whether you choose the cloud-based tool or the local solution.
While Octoparse takes care of the scraping complexities such as IP rotation, the local solution uses your machine’s resources to deliver scraped data to you. Usually, local resources will be heavily limited when compared to the powerful servers stored in the cloud.
Luckily, even with the local solution, Octoparse lets users customize a wide variety of parameters, which can make the process easier. For example, they have native custom proxy support, a feature that is essential to long-term survival against the anti-bot system used by Facebook.
There is one major drawback, however. Octoparse can get quite expensive, especially if you need the more advanced features. Most of the cool stuff is hidden behind the Professional plan, which can be inaccessible to smaller businesses or individuals.
In summary, Octoparse is one of the best Facebook scrapers out there. They can handle all of the fancy features of the social media platform and help you easily avoid the anti-bot system installed. All that is available, if you are willing to pay for it, however.
Pricing: Free plan available. Many paid plans with the cheapest starting at $30 per month and going up to $900. Annual billing provides an 8% discount.
Phantombuster is an unusual one, but definitely one of the best Facebook scrapers out there. It’s a solution that requires absolutely no coding, but doesn’t work in a “click-and-scrape” fashion. Workflows are used instead.
Additionally, there’s many Facebook scrapers offered by Phantombuster. They have separated their products into many different categories such as a Facebook groups scraper, a profile scraper, and many others. Within the Facebook scrapers some other automation services such as auto liking are included.
Phantombuster users have to create workflows with the Facebook scrapers mentioned above. Users start with a single action such as entering a search. Facebook scrapers are then added according to the action the user wants to automate.
Due to these features, it’s quite an unusual tool for extracting data from Facebook. It does have its unique advantages, though. Since there’s other automation services available, you can create a workflow that will, for example, acquire data from Facebook such as profiles and then send messages to them.
As such, Phantombuster is a little more flexible than any of the other best Facebook scrapers we’ve listed. Whether you can take full advantage of their services is another question. If you’re looking for more general automation, Phantombuster can be a great choice. Other tools might be better if you want to just extract posts or other data.
Pricing: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $49 per month. Yearly billing grants 10% off.
Apify is another catch-all scraper that has numerous automation tools. They work in a slightly unusual manner as they are a community-driven project. The company itself mostly provides the tools required to build scrapers.
As such, you can find tons of different solutions that will allow you to gather user data from the internet. However, if you want to start scraping user-generated content from Facebook, your options are slightly limited at the current moment in time.
Currently, you can extract data from Facebook with Apify with two solutions. One of them is a Facebook pages scraper and the other one is used for ads. As such, there’s no perfect solution that would cover absolutely every aspect of the social media platform.
Fortunately, Apify is quite accessible for the layman. Most of the tools offered have a simplistic UI and generally good user experience. You don’t have to know nearly as much about coding as with some of the other options.
Additionally, you can expect a lot of scraping tools to appear over the course of time. Unlike a company that has a single solution, Apify provides the tools necessary for developers. So, there’s always something being updated and something in the making.
Pricing isn’t the best, though. For access to solutions that are essentially community-driven, Apify does charge quite a bit. It’s comparable to Octoparse, which could be considered a premium solution.
All in all, Apify can be great if you need scraping tools for many different websites and don’t care too much about figuring out their store. Other scraping providers might be better if you want a fire-and-forget type of solution.
- Free plan available.
- Standard plan - $125 per month (quarterly billing) or $149 per month (monthly billing).
- Professional plan - $425 per month (quarterly billing) or $499 per month (monthly billing).
- ParseHub Plus - custom billing.
ParseHub is what we would call direct competition to Octoparse. It’s a web scraping solution that has a desktop app and also provides cloud-based access. They both work in a similar fashion with the latter allowing for more flexibility and better resource allocation.
They, however, do not require much if any coding experience to get going. ParseHub is one of the few “click-and-scrape” functionality providers. For those who want to scale projects to higher levels, other options are available as well.
It’s one of the best Facebook scrapers, because ParseHub can extract more or less anything from the page. As long as you have the URL required, they will deliver anything that is on the page almost without fail.
As a result, Parsehub should be considered in contrast to Octoparse. Both companies provide a similar solution with different pricing ranges. It’s hard to say whether there’s any hard performance differences between the two and if there’s any reason to pay a higher price for one of them.
How to scrape Facebook without getting blocked?
Regardless if you use a custom scraper or one taken from the list above, proxies will be a necessity. Some of the providers, such as Octoparse, allow users to implement their own proxies. We highly recommend doing so everywhere you can.
Proxies change your IP address by relaying connection requests for you. They do so without letting the server know that they are not the real source of the request. As such, changing proxies means making the server think a different machine (or user) is making the request.
Using proxies is important because, as mentioned previously, many websites, including Facebook, don’t take too kindly to web scraping. When they find out someone has been doing so, the most frequent course of action is to ban the IP address, blocking the user as a result.
Proxies let users evade these bans or never receive one if they keep rotating IP addresses. For Facebook scraping specialized proxies are required. They are rather obviously called Facebook proxies.
Facebook proxies are a subset of residential proxies. In short, they are IP addresses acquired from devices owned by regular users as opposed to machines owned by businesses. Facebook has a harder time detecting and banning users because the platform has a hard time differentiating between a scraper and a human.
As such, Facebook proxies are an absolute necessity. Never start scraping before getting them as your journey will be faced with a swift end. Getting blocked from Facebook is never fun.