The company admitted on Friday that its older systems for storing uploaded content “did not always delete images from content delivery networks in a reasonable period of time even though they were immediately removed from the site,” but said it’s currently finishing up a newer system that makes the process much quicker. In the meantime, photos that users thought they “deleted” from the social network months or even years ago remain accessible via direct link.
The problem: “deleted” photos never go away
When we first investigated this phenomenon in 2009, we discovered that photos “deleted” from Facebook seemingly never go away if you have a direct link to the image file on Facebook’s servers. Users who might have had second thoughts about posting a photo — whether it was because they didn’t want retaliation from an employer, wanted to avoid family drama, or uploaded a photo of a friend without their permission—could certainly remove the image from Facebook’s main user interface, but as long as someone had a direct link to the .jpg file in question, the photo would remain accessible for an indefinite amount of time.