Raise your hand if you’ve ever had an embarrassing/incriminating picture of yourself posted on Facebook- either by you or someone else. I’m pretty sure a good portion of the population would fit into this category. Most people have momentary lapses in judgment and will post that picture of you in say, that incredibly NSFW Halloween costume, or maybe that one where you’re looking rather glossy-eyed from some hard partying, or perhaps the one where you’re getting a little too friendly with your best friend’s significant other…You know what I’m getting at. Most smart adults eventually come to their senses and go back and make sure these photos are deleted and hidden forever from the searching eyes of job interviewers and nosy neighbors.
Or are they?
According to Ars Technica, the photos may not be gone forever, but still existing via direct links to the images for years. Facebook confirmed that they do indeed have “deleted” photos still in the system, hiding out on content delivery networks which store copies of network data.
So how many not-exactly-deleted photos are still out there? In September 2011, Facebook had over 140 billion photos, which actually makes it larger than the photo catalog in the Library of Congress! According to Facebook, about 2 percent of users’ photos are still being stored in an older system that has not been properly deleting the photos, allowing people to still access them through direct links. That means nearly 3 billion photos are being stored in the system- many of them potentially embarrassing and in need of deletion.
Facebook has stated that they are working on transferring these photos over to their new system so they can be properly deleted- but that’s going to take anywhere from 4-8 weeks at best.
The moral of the story: don’t take embarrassing pictures, and if you do, never ever post them on a social media site. Once something is out on the Internet, there may never be a way to go back!