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May 22, 2009

Are Facebook photos forever? The site responds

Posted: 09:45 AM ET

Here's an update to yesterday's post about photos on social networks and blogs living online after you delete them. [For background: Cambridge did a study that found photos don't go away 30 days after you delete them from several sites, including Facebook, MySpace, hi5 and Bebo.]

I got a response from Facebook last night. Here it is, as e-mailed to CNN:

As stated in the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, the governing document for the site, “when you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).“  We are working with our content delivery network (CDN) partner to significantly reduce the amount of time that backup copies persist.

What about the report (the CDN issue)?

It is possible that someone who previously had access to a photo and saved the direct URL from our content delivery network partner (this is different from the Facebook URL) could still access that photo.  We are working with our content delivery network (CDN) partner to significantly reduce the amount of time that these backup copies persist.

Thanks to those of you who responded to the post with comments. Several of you expressed concerns that photos might live online after you'd like them to be gone. Others said this is common sense by now: everyone should know not to post something on the Internet unless they would like it to live forever.

Here are a few of my favorite responses:

A user named "El Common Sense" wrote: "People don’t think about what they post online and one of these days, it will come up and bite them in the butt. I’m amazed at just how much personal info is shared and then people are afraid of ID theft, terrorists and whatever else?"

Nigel wrote that he'd noticed this problem on Facebook: "I was surprised to hear someone report seeing a posted photograph on Facebook a week or more after I had deleted it."

Jon raised another issue: What if someone else posts a photo of you?

Then there is the problem of OTHER people posting pictures of you online. There’s little you can do about those aside from removing the tag on Facebook or telling the poster to cease and desist. Easy blackmail, anyone?

On that point, here's a post from New York Times that explains how you can keep people from being able to search for photos of you on Facebook. The writer says you can't prevent people from tagging you in photos, though. Do you all think that feature should be added to the site?

[UPDATE at 3:18 p.m. ET: Smart point on untagging, from Noelle in the comments: "A note on the NY Times article. While Facebook does allow anyone to tag you in photos, you can remove the tag, and it can’t be re-tagged after you’ve removed it. Plus, all photos in which you’re tagged show up under your photos, so you can find them easily."]

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Filed under: Facebook • social-networking sites


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Steven   May 22nd, 2009 11:26 am ET

My wife deleted her Facebook account over 6 months ago and to this day, nothing has been removed from their site. She has sent several emails to the company insisting that her pictures be removed but Facebook will not comply. What exactly is a reasonable amount of time in the halls of Facebook? It appears from the outside that Facebook is more concerned with boasting about how many members they have than following their Rights and Responsibilities Statement. If you subtract the users who have deleted accounts you would see their market share drop significantly.


Cat   May 22nd, 2009 11:51 am ET

In Social Media, its all a numbers game. The more users they have the better it looks for them. If you want your Facebook account deleted, all you have to do is SPAM. They will remove your account immediately, including pictures, content, links, etc.


Jackie   May 22nd, 2009 12:17 pm ET

This is precisely why I refuse to join any social networking sites. I stayed in touch with everyone I wanted to from the past and have no desire to be posting photos or searching for people on the web. The problem is that people jump on the bandwagon and don't think about the consequences.


Mike Graziano   May 22nd, 2009 12:43 pm ET

Thats nothing, with Youtube, if you bookmark a video on your iphone, even if it is removed later due to its content.. clicking the link will still bring up the video in full length.
Course now I ruined it ... :)


Leslie   May 22nd, 2009 12:45 pm ET

Wow – Steven, thanks for that info! I have thought about deleting my Facebook account since this whole security/privacy thing made big news in the last few months. I am appalled that this is Facebook's idea of following their own policies. I agree - I think they are hell-bent on increasing their official membership numbers. Are they using the still-undeleted accounts to pad those numbers for their advertisers?


Duane in Fremont   May 22nd, 2009 1:32 pm ET

Facebook (and others) should do a better job of removing deleted photos and canceled accounts. However, this is also user error – people who post scandalous, questionable, or risque photos of themselves on any site – they should know better and are asking for trouble down the line. Stop trying to be "cool" with your friends and don't post any photo you wouldn't want your mom or boss at work to see.


james   May 22nd, 2009 1:57 pm ET

myspace does the same thing as far as not deleting a profile completely, even after multiple requests.
the way i see it, don't post anything you're not 100% sure you want others to see. it's a known fact that things are not deleted completely, whether it's from website or even your home email. it's out there somewhere for possibly a long period. but then, it's likely no one will care enough to try to find the stuff either. be responsible is all!


Brian   May 22nd, 2009 2:38 pm ET

Honestly, I think everyone should quit whining so much about Facebook and all the terrible things they do to society. First, if you don't want your information out there, you should never open up a Facebook account. End of story. Second, if you do open up a profile on Facebook, you should have your privacy settings in such a way that only those you deem worthy can access your information. Third, and most importantly, why would anyone think that pictures of their cat, office party, or "cute" kids are of any more concern than anyone else? Do you think your pictures are that important? If you don't have anything to hide, share away! Facebook is a wonderful way to connect with people in a new and inventive way. Those of you who are stuck in the mud on this subject should go back to being a pen pal. God knows the United States Postal Service could use your $0.44!


Noelle   May 22nd, 2009 2:39 pm ET

A note on the NY Times article. While Facebook does allow anyone to tag you in photos, you can remove the tag, and it can't be re-tagged after you've removed it. Plus, all photos in which you're tagged show up under your photos, so you can find them easily.


Colleen   May 23rd, 2009 11:02 am ET

I think they should enable a feature that asks your permission before someone can tag you in an photo.


Matthew   May 23rd, 2009 11:28 am ET

"Others said this is common sense by now: everyone should know not to post something on the Internet unless they would like it to live forever."

The problem is OTHER people can post photos of you and you would have no idea. I don't use facebook or myspace or anything but I know photos of myself exist on both systems without my consent after people have told me 'oh i saw you on facebook in so and so's account.' Since I don't have an account I can't monitor these services, and it doesn't seem right.


Joe   May 23rd, 2009 11:39 am ET

Yes, people should be careful about what they post. However they have no control over what others post. Facebook has an option to detele a tag of yourself when someone tags you, but apparently even if you were to convince that person to delete the photo it is still available. Even if you don't have a Facebook account, there is a very good chance that there is a pic of you on facebook somehwere. Family gatherings, partys, social events, all could land you on Facebook and apparently Facebook doesn't really care all that much if you stay there.


Mobius   May 23rd, 2009 11:52 am ET

You get what you pay for. :-)


FamDing   May 23rd, 2009 6:40 pm ET

Why not use famding.com? This social network is family oriented and much more private so you don't run into these issues.


theresa   May 24th, 2009 4:28 am ET

People who are not your Facebook "friends" can tag photos with your name, though those photos won't be linked to your profile. You're still tagged, but you won't know it. You will not see these photos under "photos of" you, because they could be of anyone with your name (even if you happen to be the only person with that name on Facebook.) I imagine that photos posted by people who don't think or know you're looking may be more of a concern for many people. Many profiles are left visible to all users of a network, which can be as large as all FB users in or from the New York City or Washington DC areas. A few profiles are even visible to all users. As for the privacy of photos within friends-only profiles, read on

Many friends-only Facebook users also post photo albums which are set to be visible to "everyone." Even though their profiles are visible only to friends, friends of their friends can see any comments by the mutual friends, and also when those mutual friends are tagged in or "like" the photos. (Unless the mutual friends have disabled posting of those items from their Walls, but that is uncommon.) The friends-of-friends, who may be complete strangers or willfully excluded from Facebook friendship, can then click and view all photos in the same album.

If any of the photo posters' friends are visible to all users in their networks, or all users on Facebook, then for the same reasons as above, their photos can easily be visible to all of those users, too.

Also, when any user posts a photo directly to the Wall, an album called Wall Photos is automatically generated, and its default setting is to be visible to "everyone." So even if a user is careful to create only friends-only albums, the same thing as above can occur if a friend comments on, "likes," or is tagged in one of those wall photos. The Wall Photos album needs to be manually set to be visible to friends only.


Karin   May 24th, 2009 8:42 am ET

Yes, stop hotlinking too. Meaning, if you have an image at another service, do not pull the image from that outside source to facebook, myspace, where ever. Please upload the original image to whichever service you wish to utilize.

It is costing the source server holding the image bandwidth usage which adds up if this scenario persists. It doesn't come cheap.....

Eventually, prices will be driven up.... Someone will need to pay the overhead at some point. Especially with all the ad-blockers....


heather newnan   May 24th, 2009 10:37 am ET

I'm waiting for the first lawsuit by a private individual against one of these social networking sites for misuse/misappropriation of one's likeness. It's just a gross violation of constitutional privacy rights that myspace, facebook etc allow OTHERS to post pictures of us without our consent. Not all of us want every detail of our lives in the public eye, and what remedies do we have against this intrustion? I don't see what the big fuss is about images people have posted of themselves being up longer – you posted them! – the real problem is pictures we have no control over. Facebook should be required by law to have a do not post list similar to the federal do not call list for telemarketers. Our founders fought so that we could have individual liberties, Why are we so eager to give them away?!


Craig   May 24th, 2009 11:30 am ET

I agree with Brian, these people have nobody to blame but themselves. These Myspace and Facebook sites are a total nuisance and I stay away from them, to me they seem to be aimed at teenage girls.


Leah   May 24th, 2009 12:28 pm ET

Brian I completely agree! I really get sick of all the nonsense. Those who use Face Book and did not realize that content does not just "disappear" need to go to take a basic course in computers. I am a computer idiot and even I knew this was the case. Face Book is wonderful for all of us who use it responsibly and most of us are aware of these things. Social networking keeps me in touch with people that I would not be in touch with as often as I am now and in addition, I am always aware of new job opportunities through my extended networks. I respect those that don't wish to participate–that is your choice but quit griping about things you all should have been aware of to begin with:)


patricia   May 24th, 2009 3:23 pm ET

Hi there, Thank you for this article and for posting the subsequent comments from Facebook.

I want to also caution Internet users on another fact. Blog entries on popular web sites such as Yelp.com and MANY others will live for a period of about 90 days even after you delete them. Why? Google has bots that "take pictures" in time of web sites and provide them in history for searches. I know this first hand, I was threatened with a lawsuit from a place of business because I posted "unfavorable" comments about their facilities. Even though I removed them, that content kept coming up in searches for about 90 days. Finally, they disappeared.

Generally speaking, you should NOT POST anything that you don't want "remembered." I personally do not believe that when I delete my cookies, browser history and others that it "really goes away."

Thank you again

Regards


West of Weden   May 24th, 2009 4:03 pm ET

Facebook is the new definition of Narcissism.


Left Without an Option   May 24th, 2009 9:12 pm ET

Somehow, it's always left out of this conversation that the person who has the least control of what information of theirs is posted online is the person who chooses to abstain from Facebook entirely. I don't like the site or its community, so I made a simple decision: I deactivated my account (years ago, only a few months after it was launched).

Now, people can post pictures of me, and tag those photos with my name, and not only can I not remove the photos, I also cannot untag them. By deciding the internet is too public for my tastes, I'm left with no option in keeping my information private.


Zach   May 25th, 2009 12:30 am ET

Ounce you post something on the internet you can never take it back, and it will always be there.


hell_yeah   May 25th, 2009 2:27 am ET

photos usually is copyrighted to the photographer, NOT the persons in the photos. any photo of people in a public setting is public property, thus an individual cannot choose to remove his/her photo if that photo was taken by another person.
the rationale behind this is that everything on the public domain IS on public domain. if you don't want embarrassing photos of you posted on facebook, DON'T do embarrassing stuff in public!


Don Budzik   May 25th, 2009 1:48 pm ET

I think a lot of people on here have hit it right on the head. Most people seem to think that the world of the Internet is their own private landscape, when the polar opposite is true. The Internet is a valuable resource, but also a dangerous way to communicate, especially when dealing with personal items, stories, pictures, etc. basically life stuff.

I have known a gentleman named Gary Roediger for quite some time. Gary is a masters in computer science from U of I. He has always stressed the importance of security on the Internet. Further, he has told me about all of these security hazards with some of the more popular social networking sights. Many, before they were even discovered.

People have a "so what" attitude about the Internet, when it comes to their personal identity. Many people think, "nothing will happen", but many issues are now starting to crop up due to the explosion of on line networking. Gary saw all of this stuff, and through assistance of SBIR grant money has created your own "Info Vault" on the Internet called Kbook. Or KNOWLEDGE BOOK, to extrapolate.

People go to the bank when depositing money. Well... why not goto the bank, when depositing personal info. Kbook is a hosted product like other networking sights, only its private. Your own personal space, and you decide who talks with you. All secure. None of the Tom foolery that you see out there today. I will be making a move to this shortly, as it launches this week. Keep your eyes out!


New And Used Car   December 6th, 2009 3:18 am ET

Facebook Hack...

Hacking facebook is not to hard, there is a simple way...


bumble   August 24th, 2010 7:36 pm ET

How many people have had their Facebook and CNN accounts linked
#1 Without their permission?
#2 And are not able to unlink?
Does your CNN photo always follow your Facebook photo even if the account link is disabled?


Smiciamreargo   September 17th, 2011 3:52 pm ET

Hello
I'm new here so I apologize if this is posted in the wrong forum.
I've read that google is spying on us and tracks all our searches and activities on the internet and maybe sell this information to marketing companies.
check this out http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090314073002AAlyt2m

what should I do?
Use other search engines such as :
Cherche
Yahoo
Bing
Ask!


website design vancouver   February 16th, 2012 12:51 am ET

I just came across scitech.blogs.cnn.com and I want to say: "What a beautiful picture!" I will surely contact you if we need a professional photographer.


Samir   April 3rd, 2012 10:34 pm ET

jglanzer – Julie Saw this over at 2peas, but I had to comment here, too. You did such a great job with this; the bneidlng is beautiful, as are the photos you used. It really has a nice effect!


grow your business   August 27th, 2012 12:00 pm ET

useful info. Thankyou for that. Its what I love about this resource, and why I keep coming back. Thanks again.


SarahAnn   February 12th, 2013 1:37 am ET

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