February 7, 2012
Three Years After Deletion, Facebook Photos Still Online
When does the delete button not mean delete? Apparently when Facebook decides it doesn´t.
Facebook admitted on Friday that it is completing a new system that makes deleting photos much quicker. However, an older system is still storing many images that users have deleted and assume are gone forever. Deleted images will disappear from ℠normal´ views of the site, but remain visible to anyone with a direct URL link to the picture, reports Rob Waugh for Mail Online.
A Facebook response on the subject claimed the older software, “did not always delete images from content delivery networks in a reasonable period of time even though they were immediately removed from the site.”
Ars Technica investigated this phenomenon in 2009 and discovered that deleted photos where still visible via direct link to the image file on Facebook´s servers. Users who might have had second thoughts about posting a photo could certainly remove the image from Facebook´s main user interface.
However as long as someone had a direct link to the file in question, the photo would remain accessible for an indefinite amount of time. When Facebook was asked about it, Jacqui Cheng of Ars Technica was told that the company was “working with our content delivery network (CDN) partner to significantly reduce the amount of time that backup copies persist.”
Facebook spokesperson Frederic Wolen explained, “The systems we used for photo storage a few years ago did not always delete images from content delivery networks in a reasonable period of time even though they were immediately removed from the site.”
Admitting that there are still problems today, Wolen says that an upcoming system update will fix the problem. Even so, ℠deleted´ pictures will still be accessible for up to 45 days after deletion.
The update is not expected to be finished for a few more months still and in the meantime Facebook users will need to live with the fact that they have photos floating in the web that they do not want seen by anyone.
Chang eventually found that her own deleted photos from a few years ago had been scrubbed from the Internet at some point after she wrote a follow-up report on the story in 2010.
“Amusingly, after publishing the 2010 follow up, Facebook appeared to delete my photos from its CDN that I had linked in the piece,” Chang reports. “The company never offered me any explanation, but my photos were the only ones that were deleted at that time.”
“Other ℠deleted´ photos that I had saved links to–ones that weren´t from my account and were deleted even earlier than mine–remained online.”
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