Facebook just doesn't know how to get over you, it seems. Three years after tech sites called out the social network for keeping copies of deleted photos on their servers, Facebook is still having a hard time permanently deleting all the old photos its users trashed in the sober light of day. Facebook originally claimed that an old photo management system wasn't properly clearing out the deleted photography, and that they've been working to improve it, but according to Ars Technica's follow-up report today photos deleted as many as three years ago could still be floating around the back corners of the Internet.
The potentially career-ruining or otherwise embarassing photos can be dug up by anyone who managed to snag the direct link to the .jpg file on Facebook's servers. (It's the long messy link that you never think will work when you try to IM it a friend, but then it totally does and now it's saved in your chat history forever — which, by the way, that's another thing we should probably talk about: your chat logs.)
Anyhow, Jacqui Cheng at Ars Technica dug through mountains of embarrassing photos sent in by paranoid readers who are currently living through this social media nightmare and discovered she could still access at least one naked toddler photo that was deleted way back in May of 2008, among others. So what can you, as a private citizen of the Internet, do to get those not-actually-deleted photos removed from the Internet entirely? Well, you could be a reporter writing a negative story on the problem, for starters. That seemed to work for Cheng:
Amusingly, after publishing the 2010 followup, Facebook appeared to delete my photos from its [Content Delivery Network] that I had linked in the piece. The company never offered me any explanation, but my photos were the only ones that were deleted at that time.
For the rest of us, on the other hand, we'll just have to wait until Facebook implements a new photo management system that they promise will permanently eradicate deleted photos within 45 days. A spokesperson for Facebook claims that fix should be online "within the next month or two", and that they will also delete those photos that should be long gone by now, but we're not exactly holding our breath over here.