We think that most people understand the fact that once you do something online it can be very difficult to make it go away. Just ask Bruce Clay about his issues recently around trying to take a site down in time for people to not tear it apart. The “magic” of the Internet has created numerous ways to still bring that site up even though it is no longer in existence. Ooooops.
The reality is that most people (those outside of the Internet over-saturated, Silicon Valley types whose level of disconnect from reality can be startling) don’t understand what they are doing when they post things online. And apparently, at least with Facebook, “deleting” a picture isn’t what it might seem either.
According to Ars Technica
Facebook is still working on deleting photos from its servers in a timely manner nearly three years after Ars first brought attention to the topic. The company admitted on Friday that its older systems for storing uploaded 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,” but said it’s currently finishing up a newer system that makes the process much quicker. In the meantime, photos that users thought they “deleted” from the social network months or even years ago remain accessible via direct link.
I suggest you read the Ars article. The devil, as always, is in the details. Even down to the attempt by Facebook to delete referenced photos after they are called to the mat on the issue yet other photos still remain. It shows that there are serious gaps and issues and Facebook knows it.
We all need to be careful what we think we are “accomplishing” when we supposedly delete things from the online world that, in actuality, live on for years and years. It’s obvious that Facebook isn’t concerned about your need to remove data from the total ecosystem that is fed by Facebook. Let’s face it. Facebook is huge in terms of the data they have. They don’t have the capability to truly serve users with regard to their personal data needs and, since they are dependent on that data for their billions of dollars, they are not compelled to be service oriented.
Add to that the general public is ignorant to how all of this stuff works then Facebook can usually get a free pass on this stuff and boy do they take advantage of it.
I know that many of our readers will not be surprised by this kind of thing. We’ll act like “Oh that’s just the way it is”. I will admit, however, that when I read that Ars article and realized that in this instance there is at least a three year lag in truly removing photos that were fed into the Facebook ecosystem, I was a bit surprised. 30 days, 90 days maybe even 6 months is a time period that might be deemed acceptable but three years?
It will be a collection of things like this and other realizations about just how Facebook treats user data that could ultimately be their Achilles heel. As people get smarter they may get less forgiving. I’m not there yet because I try to be cautious about what I post to begin with. In general, you can prevent these “troubles” by exercising some common sense and restraint. Most folks aren’t thinking about the big picture, though, when they post things to Facebook. They are worried about being cool and entertaining their friends. They are not wondering about their reputation. Too bad. Get ready for some rocky rides as the Internet becomes less of a mystery and people see what they are actually doing to themselves. At that point, what will being social online look like?