Facebook may be making strides in some areas of privacy, but the company is still struggling when it comes to deleting user photos—or not deleting them, as the case may be.
We wrote a piece more than a year ago
examining whether photos really
disappear from social network servers when you delete them, and found that Facebook was one of the worst offenders when it came to leaving "deleted" photos online. We decided to revisit the issue recently when readers continued to point out that our deleted photos from that article were still online more than 16 months later. Indeed, this old photo of me
remains on Facebook's content delivery network (CDN) servers, despite being deleted on May 21, 2009.
When we originally inquired with Facebook in 2009 about this, the company tried to tell us that deleted images were inaccessible even though they were on the server (a statement that's obviously false if you have a direct link to the image file, as we do). Simultaneously, Facebook told Ars that it was "working with" its CDN partner to "significantly reduce the amount of time that backup copies persist."