Social networking sites 'keep deleted photos' - research

May 21, 2009
The logo of social networking website Facebook. User photographs can still be found on many social networking sites including Facebook after people have deleted them, British researchers said Thursday.

User photographs can still be found on many social networking sites including Facebook after people have deleted them, British researchers said Thursday.

The findings by a team from Cambridge University raise questions about the ability of users of the sites to permanently delete potentially embarrassing photographs.

The researchers posted photographs on 16 popular websites and noted the web addresses where the images were stored, before deleting them.

But researchers said that although the images appeared to have gone, they were still able to find them 30 days later on seven sites, including , by using the direct web addresses.

Special photo-sharing sites, such as and Google's Picasa, fared better than Facebook and Microsoft's Windows Live Spaces removed the photos instantly, the research found.

Joseph Bonneau, an American member of the research team, told AFP: "When you delete a photo, many of the sites don't actively remove it, they basically just wait for it be overwritten.

"In theory, the photos could take months to disappear.

"It is possible to have them removed right away but it takes more work on their part so it is easier for them just to leave it.

"They have a responsibility to ensure users' privacy and they are not fulfilling that responsibility."

A spokesman for Facebook said that while photographs are deleted from the site immediately, they may continue to exist for a short time elsewhere.

"When a user deletes a photograph from Facebook it is removed from our servers immediately," the spokesman told the BBC.

"However, URLs to photographs may continue to exist on the Content Delivery Network (CDN) after users delete them from Facebook, until they are overwritten.

"Overwriting usually happens after a short period of time."

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Evite rival Socializr launches events aggregator

Related Stories

Evite rival Socializr launches events aggregator

April 15, 2009

(AP) -- Socializr, the online invitations startup from Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams, now helps users manage their events from sites like Facebook, MySpace, Evite and Meetup.

Web 'prime tool' for hate groups: Wiesenthal Center

May 14, 2009

Extremist groups have made the Web their "prime tool" to spread hate and the number of online bigots on Facebook is growing faster than efforts to remove them, the Simon Wiesenthal Center said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Samsung to disable Note 7 phones in recall effort

December 9, 2016

Samsung announced Friday it would disable its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in the US market to force remaining owners to stop using the devices, which were recalled for safety reasons.

Swiss unveil stratospheric solar plane

December 7, 2016

Just months after two Swiss pilots completed a historic round-the-world trip in a Sun-powered plane, another Swiss adventurer on Wednesday unveiled a solar plane aimed at reaching the stratosphere.

Solar panels repay their energy 'debt': study

December 6, 2016

The climate-friendly electricity generated by solar panels in the past 40 years has all but cancelled out the polluting energy used to produce them, a study said Tuesday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.