Facebook is finally deleting your 'deleted' photos

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured, Privacy, Social networks

Bin image courtesy of ShutterstockIt looks like the whole Facebook-not-deleting-your-photos-when-it-said-it-had saga might be coming to an end.

Back in February, we reported that the "Delete this photo" button wasn't actually deleting the photo from Facebook's content delivery networks, at least not for a long while anyway.

So despite the photo disappearing from your profile, if you plugged the image url straight into your browser you could still see it.

It's less shutting the door on the photo and more masking it with a beaded curtain.

Now the problem has been fixed, as Frederic Wolens from Facebook told Ars Technica:

As a result of work on our policies and infrastructure, we have instituted a 'max-age' of 30 days for our CDN links.

However, in some cases the content will expire on the CDN much more quickly.

I tried it myself and it instantly seemed to work:

Facebook photo deleted

This content is currently unavailable

The page you requested cannot be displayed at the moment. It may be temporarily unavailable, the link you clicked on may have expired, or you may not have permission to view this page.

This all sounds like good news. Although it's important to remember that if something has been ever posted on the internet, it's possible that someone could have grabbed it and posted it somewhere else.

So that nude photo of you riding a camel, carrying firecrackers in each hand and balancing a chair on your head might not have disappeared forever.

By the way, you can keep up to date on the latest changes to Facebook by liking the Sophos Naked Security Facebook page.

Bin image courtesy of Shutterstock

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9 Responses to Facebook is finally deleting your 'deleted' photos

  1. Geneva · 1147 days ago

    So have they decided what they are going to do with the "ghost" spaces that is in your "Friends" where profiles pics/accounts once appeared... my entire "Friends" count is thrown off because of it. The FB powers that be do not respond to their forums or to their emails....

    • Connie · 1147 days ago

      Those ghost spaces are there because the accounts still exist, they are simply indefinitely disabled.
      Some people disable their accounts instead of deleting them so they can always change their mind at some point in the future. If the user does come back and enable it, then they would be in your friends list again, without having to request it.
      Otherwise they would have to do all their friend requests all over again, if they could even remember who all the 625 friends they once had were.

  2. Lol.. That's not a test any way, a rule that expires cdn link doesn't really delete the content only makes it inaccesible from that link, and easy circumvention is to serve each user a distinct link. And nothing's changed for facebook except some users stop complaining for a while until they figure out what's going on.

    • Frustrated · 1140 days ago

      Yes, this is absolutely true. I deleted my wall on facebook a year ago (photos, status updates, etc) and now all of this data (and more) appears in timeline's activity log. Facebook doesn't actually delete ANY data permanently. They delete content links only. Somehow, they have gotten away with not informing anyone of this. They need to allow users to really delete data and to show evidence that they have done this.

      • ravi · 1124 days ago

        I think the same way. How can we ensure that facebook really deletes our data and not storing it as backup/log forever? There are so many IT professional/engineers, I wonder y they did not notice this.

        There has to be a policy that they cant own/take any users data without permission. what do you guys think? What would be a good way to make them realize about this?

  3. @BFroberg · 1146 days ago

    Hey, I'm proud of my nude camel-riding!

  4. John · 1144 days ago

    Oh, I see, I thought you.meant that the camel was nude :-)

  5. Troy Abner · 1144 days ago

    With the advent of facial recognition and the need for as much data for these programs to work as can be harnessed do you really think that the deleted photos are gone? or just moved over to a data base that these recognitions programs can feed off of?

  6. Carlos · 1144 days ago

    This is obviously some new usage of the word "deleted".

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About the author

Anna Brading is Naked Security's editor. She has worked in tech for more than ten years and as a writer with Sophos for over five. She's interested in social media, privacy and keeping people safe online.