A picture may be worth a thousand words, but there seems to be one word Facebook doesn’t understand: “delete.”
When you delete a Facebook image from your profile you’re actually sending a request to Facebook to remove that photo file from its servers. You’d expect the request to be completed in a reasonable amount of time. Ars Technica is reporting, however, that “deleted” photos dating back as far as 2008 are still floating around on Facebook’s servers and are accessible to the outside world.
When you want to delete a photo from your profile, you click the “Delete This Photo” link under the image. That photo is removed from your profile and the profiles of all those tagged. However, that doesn’t mean the photo is gone for good. A direct link to the photo itself (not its page in a Facebook photo album) will recall the picture into existence, unless it has been completely wiped from Facebook’s servers. Only once the photo has been deleted from the servers will it no longer appear at that link.
Facebook representative Fred Wollens has an explanation. As the company grows from its original technology to newer, more mature systems, the buggy systems are being phased out. The servers that originally held a lot of Facebook’s photo data were part of one of those buggy systems. The legacy servers did not properly remove the photos after a delete request was made.
A new photo-storage option is in the works that will delete photos within a month and a half of their removal from the Facebook site, according to a conversation Ars had with Wollens. The files left in Facebook’s photo-purgatory will be transferred to the new system and deleted as requested.
The system will be completed within the next two months. Until then, just don’t upload photos like the one above. (Though, who doesn’t want to use a toilet scrubber as a microphone?)