Uploaded photos remain on social-networking sites long after users think they’ve deleted them, a study finds. Researchers put photos on 16 popular sites and then deleted them. A month later, the BBC reports, the photos were still accessible using their direct URLs on seven of those sites, including Facebook—which claims to delete them immediately. Photo-sharing sites like Flickr fared better.
A Facebook spokesman said the photos are removed immediately from servers, but that the URL remains until it is overwritten. “Overwriting usually happens after a short period of time,” he says. “This demonstrates how social networking sites often do what’s simpler rather than what is correct,” says a study researcher. “It’s imperative to view privacy as a design constraint, not a legal add-on.”