Facebook came forward friday, admitting that your old "deleted" pictures and other content is still online; they say the content "did not always delete images from content delivery networks in a reasonable period of time even though they were immediately removed from the site". Facebook says they're working on an updated system that speeds up the process for deleting old content that was originally supposed to done away with months even years prior.
Ars Technica did an online investigation in 2009 and what they discovered was not positive findings. The investigation found that "deleted" photos do not necessarily delete when there is a direct link to them existing on Facebook's servers. Users may certainly "delete" the photo from their page, but if anyone had a direct link to that photo, it can remain accessible until Facebook updates their system. Facebook says they are working with their content delivery network to reduce the amount of time that backup copies persist.
Ars Technica followed up on their investigation greater than a year later and the so called deleted photos were still accessible. Stories began to roll in; "horror" stories were told of harassment using old photos that were supposed to be deleted years ago, but were still accessible due to that direct link.
Now it's 2012 and things haven't really changed, numerous photos that were "deleted" at the times of the investigation and the followup are still online and Facebook still reported that they were "working" on the issue. Facebook had this to say about the situation:
"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."
Facebook spokesperson Frederic Wolens says that photos still remaining online are "stuck" in an old legacy system that never operated properly; he stated that the company is working on a new system that will expeditiously remove the content with the span of a month and a half. For real, you guys. Wolens was quoted saying:
"We have been working hard to move our photo storage to newer systems which do ensure photos are fully deleted within 45 days of the removal request being received. This process is nearly complete and there is only a very small percentage of user photos still on the old system awaiting migration, the URL you provided was stored on this legacy system. We expect this process to be completed within the next month or two, at which point we will verify the migration is complete and we will disable all the old content."
Mr. Wolens says Facebook is truly updating everything so that all the old content will be properly disposed in a timely period; up to 45 days. Facebook is currently in the process of building this new system and it's said that it could take a couple of months still to complete.