I’ve always understood and accepted that Facebook saves all your content, even the stuff you delete. What I didn’t realize was that it’s still 100% accessible to anyone that has the right link, and worse, Facebook is actively promoting and encouraging access to your deleted content!
Today was a real eye-opener.
My Facebook friend and I were posting on a conversation on her wall about biking and walking to work. I happened to notice one of the “Memorable Status Updates” on the sidebar of her wall. There was an interesting conversation about exercise from about 18 months ago, so I clicked, and posted a new comment on the old thread.
My friend questioned me as to how I found the old discussion, since she regularly cleans her wall of older posts, deleting them. She informed me she deleted it months ago!
Now, as I previously mentioned, the fact that Facebook retained deleted content didn’t really surprise me. What DID surprise, stun and scare me was that Facebook was actually promoting and encouraging access to said deleted content!
So, that means that if you posted something terrible about your boss or inlaw, change your mind, and delete it a few days later, if you become Facebook friends with that person, they might actually find that post on the side bar listing “Memorable Status Updates”.
LESSON LEARNED! Don’t post anything on Facebook that you don’t want to last forever! NOTHING is every truly deleted on Facebook and Facebook can promote access to it any way they want…
EDIT 2011-04-10: It’s funny, since I wrote this, I haven’t seen any instances of the problem. Thankfully, maybe Facebook came to their senses! But this proves that they CAN pretty much do whatever they want with your content, and the cat could be out of the bag before you realize there’s a problem! Don’t put anything on Facebook that you don’t want to be public – JUST IN CASE they decide to mess up again!
I recently published an app called Exfoliate that automates the deletion of old content from Facebook. It deletes your comments, posts, likes, and photos, from your friends’ walls and your own wall. It’s currently available on Android and is coming soon to iOS.
In developing it, I have observed two issues with Facebook content deletion:
1. There is often a delay in the delete, due to caching.
2. At any given time, some content may not be visible, thus making it impossible to make a delete request.
A couple runs of Exfoliate, spaced a couple weeks apart, seems to be a thorough approach.Comment by Mike on November 9th, 2011