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Deleting photos from a social network

From: Karl Dubost <karl+w3c@la-grange.net>
Date: Thu, 21 May 2009 06:33:26 -0400
Message-Id: <BEE30E02-0360-4033-AE75-742A006F0B34@la-grange.net>
To: public-xg-socialweb@w3.org

Interesting for two reasons:

    * an issue with the expectations between the action and the results.
    * "Light Blue Touchpaper" has tested through sites the action. It  
means that each social pattern mechanism (of our deliverables) could  
be tested. An implementation report could be produced. It is a lot  
more work and we do not have the resources for now.

On Thu, 21 May 2009 10:25:26 GMT
In Are You Sure Those Photos Have Really Been Deleted?
At http://mashable.com/2009/05/21/photos-deleted-facebook/

When you delete a photo from a site such as
Facebook (Facebook reviews), Bebo or MySpace
(MySpace reviews), is it really deleted
immediately, or even at all? According to some
interesting research conducted by Light Blue
Touchpaper, many sites do not remove photos even
30 days after the user has deleted them.

The study was conducted on 16 sites over the
period of 30 days, and the results were awful. The
details of the test, as described by LBT, are as

     “For our experiment, we uploaded a test image
onto 16 chosen sites with default permissions,
then noted the URL of the uploaded image. Every
site served the test image given knowledge of its
URL except for Windows Lives Spaces, whose photo
servers required session cookies (a refreshing
congratulations to Microsoft for beating the
competition in security). We ran our initial study
for 30 days, and posted the results below. A
dismal 7 of the 16 sites failed to revoke photos
after 30 days“

The sites that failed the test include most of the
biggest social networks out there: Facebook,
MySpace, Bebo, and hi5 flat out failed the test,
meaning the deleted photos were still available at
the same URL. On other sites, such as Blogger
(blogger reviews) and Friendster (Friendster
reviews), the removal of the photos in question
took some time, but it was ultimately carried out
within the 30 day limit. Only four sites - Flickr
(Flickr reviews), Photobucket (Photobucket
reviews), Orkut and Windows Live Spaces (which
used session cookies) - passed the test with
flying colors.

This means that most of these services don’t
really put user privacy in the first place, as
it’s technically easier to simply wait till the
photos drop from server’s cache. And yes, it’s all
there (usually) in the TOSes, but when you’re
faced with the cold fact of your deleted photos
not being removed even after 30 days, then
“reasonable period of time” doesn’t really sound
that reasonable anymore.

Karl Dubost
Montréal, QC, Canada
Received on Thursday, 21 May 2009 10:33:39 UTC

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