Ars Technica published an interesting story today about how photos uploaded to Facebook remain on their servers months — or even years — after they’re “deleted” from the service. We decided to test this out ourselves, uploading the above photo to Facebook, copying the direct URL to the image file, and then deleting both the photo and the album. As you can see from the hotlinked photo above, the image continues to live on as a zombie photo on Facebook’s CDN servers.
We decided to test out Flickr as well. Here’s the hotlinked image from Flickr’s servers after the photo was “deleted”:
At the time of this posting, both images can still be accessed. If you can’t see either of the photos and no one has reported it in the comments, please leave a comment so we can track how long these zombie files remain. It’ll be interesting to see how long “deletion” takes for these two services.
Do you think this issue is as serious as the other Facebook issues that have been discussed quite a bit in the comments of previous posts?
Update: The Flickr photo seems to be unavailable now 10-15 minutes after it was deleted.
Update: The Facebook image was finally removed. A commenter reported it on February 27th, 2011, but it might have happened sooner. Took about four months.