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: Twitter rules out Turkey office amid tax row

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Evite rival Socializr launches events aggregator

Apr 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

Net neutrality balancing act

53 minutes ago

Researchers in Italy, writing in the International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management have demonstrated that net neutrality benefits content creator and consumers without compromising provider innovation nor pr ...

Twitter rules out Turkey office amid tax row

23 hours ago

Social networking company Twitter on Wednesday rejected demands from the Turkish government to open an office there, following accusations of tax evasion and a two-week ban on the service.

How does false information spread online?

Apr 16, 2014

Last summer the World Economic Forum (WEF) invited its 1,500 council members to identify top trends facing the world, including what should be done about them. The WEF consists of 80 councils covering a wide range of issues including social media. Members come ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Net neutrality balancing act

Researchers in Italy, writing in the International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management have demonstrated that net neutrality benefits content creator and consumers without compromising provider innovation nor pr ...

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...

Bionic ankle 'emulates nature'

These days, Hugh Herr, an associate professor of media arts and sciences at MIT, gets about 100 emails daily from people across the world interested in his bionic limbs.