Home > Privacy, Social Networking > ‘Deleted’ Facebook photos still viewable THREE YEARS later

‘Deleted’ Facebook photos still viewable THREE YEARS later

February 7, 2012


Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook: Site users claim that 'deleted' photographs persist on the site for up to three years, accessible by anyone with a link to them

Deleted Facebook photos don’t disappear but can still be accessed by anyone with a link to the images themselves.

The company admits that its systems ‘do not always delete images in a reasonable period of time.’

The news is liable to be a shock to users who’ve relied on the delete function to remove embarrassing photos from office parties or nights out.

Deleted images vanish from ‘normal’ views of the site – ie if you log in to Facebook and look on somebody’s photo page, they won’t be visible – but remain visible to anyone with a direct URL link to the picture.

That means that if, for instance, a picture has been circulated by email, the image will still be there for anyone who clicks the link.

Facebook has repeatedly promised to ‘fix’ problems with the systems it uses to remove photographs, after users pointed out that images tended to persist after deletion.

Not all deleted pictures are affected, but a significant percentage.

Technology site Ars Technica reports that a picture of a naked toddler supposedly ‘removed’ in 2008 was still visible as of February 2012.

Site readers reported campaigns of harassment using supposedly ‘deleted’ pictures.

Facebook has been repeatedly informed of the problem, but the company’s line has always been that it is being fixed.

The company admits that there are still problems today, but 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 revelation comes after Facebook faced criticism for its new ‘Timeline’ profile page, giving users seven days to ‘tidy up’ their timelines by removing pictures and posts they don’t like.

User reactions to Timeline included, ‘I dont want a timeline on my Facebook – why do you force me to have one?’ and ‘I hate Facebook timeline design with a vengeance. More frippery and less function. Why are they forcing it on us?’

Now it seems that even deleted pictures may still come back to haunt users.

A Facebook spokesman said, ‘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.’

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg

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‘We have been working hard to move our photo storage to newer systems which do ensure photos are fully deleted within 45 days of the removal request being received.’

‘This process is nearly complete and there is only a very small percentage of user photos still on the old system awaiting migration.’

‘We expect this process to be completed within the next month or two, at which point we will verify the migration is complete and we will disable all the old content.’

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