The latest in a string of good news pertaining to Facebook photos is that Ars Technica, having concluded an independent testing, has revealed that photos deleted from Facebook are quickly moving out of its servers. Facebook had earlier admitted to being unable to erase user-deleted images from its servers, much to the chagrin of its users. Photos cached on the servers now stop being visible within 30 days of deletion.

In a detailed report, Ars Technica affirms that it first began investigating the social networks Facebook, MySpace, Flickr and Twitter in 2009 for the swiftness with which deleted photos became well and truly irretrievable from these websites. One way in which Ars Technica did this was by obtaining and saving direct links to the test photos it had uploaded on Facebook. What Ars Technica found became a cause of worry.

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No more hoarding of deleted photos

While Twitter and Flickr took a few seconds to remove the photos from their content delivery networks (CDN), MySpace and Facebook were found to take very long to do so. MySpace took several months, Facebook over a year. Ars Technica adds that Facebook only removed the photos that the former deleted as part of its investigation. It was found that, “…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”.

Facebook soon admitted that not all photos were deleted “within a reasonable period”. Quoting Facebook spokesperson, Frederic Wolens, the Ars Technica report said, “The systems we used for photo storage a few years ago did not always delete images from content delivery networks in a reasonable period of time even though they were immediately removed from the site. We have been working hard to move our photo storage to newer systems which do ensure photos are fully deleted”.

The report states that since February this year, photos that users deleted from Facebook took only about two days to move out of the company's servers. Wolens confirmed to Ars Technica that this was the result of the company's new photo deletion policy and change in storage systems. Wolens said, “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”.

Wolens added, “As you know, 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 the CDN”.

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