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Facebook stores "deleted" pictures for up to 2 years or more

posted Oct 15, 2010, 5:51 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Oct 17, 2010, 11:57 PM ]

Facebook keeps 'deleted' photos for years

By BEN GRUBB - Sydney Morning Herald
Last updated 11:08 14/10/2010

Even if you delete incriminating photos on your Facebook profile, the company is keeping them accessible to anyone online for up to 30 months.

The social networking site admitted it had been keeping deleted photos for a "limited" amount of time.

But users who have kept the direct link to photos that were originally uploaded to the social networking site have been able to still gain access to them months, even years after deletion.

In one report, a Facebook user said they had deleted an image from the site 2.5 years ago (30 months), and that it was still available to see on the site. Another said a photo from April 2009 was still accessible after it was deleted.

The revelation comes as encryption expert and author Bruce Schneier slammed the site at the RSA Conference in London overnight, saying social networking companies were deliberately killing privacy for commercial gain.

The Facebook photo matter centres on what is known as a content delivery network, or content distribution network (CDN), which stores multiple copies of content on servers around the globe so that it can be accessible more quickly in your region than it would take to access it from another country.

Facebook uses such a delivery method when you upload a photo to the site. However, when you delete your photos from the site, despite them being removed from view, if you still have the image's direct URL it may still be accessible for a period of time after its removal.

Facebook spokesman Simon Axten told technology site ArsTechnica that the company was actively working with its CDN on this issue. His statement was confirmed with Facebook's Australian public relations firm.

"It's possible that someone who previously had access to a photo and saved the direct URL from our content delivery network partner could still access the photo," Axten said.

"However, again, the person would have to know the URL, and the photo only exists in the CDN's cache for a limited amount of time. We're working with the CDN to reduce the amount of time that the photo remains in its cache."

He said the company was "currently working with the CDN on a fix that will delete photo and video content from the CDN's cache shortly after it's removed on Facebook.

"The fix is already in place for videos, and we hope to implement it for profile pictures and photos in the coming weeks."