Tech site: Some photos deleted from social sites don't really vanish fast
Finally, Facebook is getting around to actually removing photos that users have deleted from their accounts, a tech site said over the weekend.
Ars Technica said Facebook has revealed that its new photo storage systems are now in place, and will remove deleted photos within a reasonable period of time.
"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, based on a number of factors," it quoted Facebook spokesperson Frederic Wolens as saying.
Wolens did not elaborate on the mechanism, but stressed people who casually surf Facebook would stop seeing photos immediately upon deletion.
He said the photos "stop being shown to other users on Facebook immediately when the photo is first deleted by the user."
The 30-day window only applies to the cached images on Facebook's content delivery networks (CDN), Wolens added.
"Better late than never, but 3+ years is still quite a while for the world's most popular social network to figure out how to remove images from its CDN properly," Ars Technica said.
On the other hand, Ars Technica said this may not mean Facebook's privacy problems are gone.
Handling deleted photos
In 2009, Ars Technica checked how social networking services like Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, and Twitter in 2009 handled photos deleted by users.
The test, which involved saving a direct link to the JPEG photos, found Twitter and Flickr removed the photos from their content delivery networks (CDNs) seconds after deletion from the site.
But while the test found MySpace got around to deleting the photos from its CDN several months later, Facebook "ended up being the embarrassing holdout."
"It took more than a year after our coverage began for Facebook to delete my photos from its CDN, but it seemed like only my photos were deleted—numerous Ars readers wrote in with links to their own photos that they tried to delete, and nearly all of those remained online (in direct-linkable form) for three years or more," it said.
In February 2012, Facebook finally admitted its systems may not have been working correctly in the past.
Wolens said February the systems Facebook used for photo storage a few years ago did not always delete images from CDNs even if they were immediately removed from the site.
But in February, Ars Technica said a test showed the direct photo links seemed to have disappeared.
Wolens confirmed to Ars that this was a result of Facebook's new photo deletion policy and storage systems.
Fast deletion by Instagram
Ars Technica said popular photo service Instagram, which Facebook bought last April, disappeared very quickly.
"The moment I deleted the image, it was inaccessible from Instagram's servers. Curious about the discrepancy," Ars Technica said.
"We mark photos as deleted on [Amazon S3] after a user deletion, though they may be cached in our CDN for up to 24 hours after. There was a short time period where photos weren't getting marked as deleted in S3, but that has been fixed," Instagram spokesperson Kevin Systrom said. — ELR, GMA News