After 3 years of repeated reports of Facebook’s servers not deleting photos, which users no longer wished to be viewed, the company has finally announced a solution to the problem. According to AllFacebook.com, there have been issues with this particular feature of Facebook, dating back to reports by Ars Technica in 2009.

facebook photo delete

Jacqui Cheng reported that photos, which had been deleted by Facebook users, had indeed, been removed from their profiles, but that anyone who knew the photo’s exact URL address could still access them. The URL to a photo is much more complex than a basic web address, as it contains a list of letters and numbers to redirect users to the exact online location of the photo.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) responded to Cheng, by saying that they were “working with our content delivery partner (CDL) to significantly reduce the amount of time that backup copies persist.” However, the problem continued on into 2010, when Cheng wrote a follow up article on the issue. She said that the photos she posted about were indeed removed, but the ones she had deleted, and not mentioned in her post were still available for viewing.

Frederic Wolens, spokesman for Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), said this in an email to Cheng in February:

“The systems we used for photo storage a few years ago did not always delete images from content delivery networks in a reasonable period of time, even though they were immediately removed from the site.

We have been working hard to move our photo storage to newer systems that do ensure that photos are fully deleted within 45 days of the removal request being received.

This process is nearly complete, and there is only a very small percentage of user photos still on the old system awaiting migration. The URL you provided was stored on this legacy system. We expect this process to be completed within the next month or two, at which point we will verify that the migration is complete and we will disable all of the old content.”

More recently, this email was sent to Cheng regarding the issue being solved:

“As a result of work on our policies and infrastructure, we have instituted a “max-age” of 30 days for our CDN links. However, in some cases, the content will expire on the CDN much more quickly, based on a number of factors.

As you know, the photos stop being shown to other users on Facebook immediately when the photo is first deleted by the user. The 30-day window only applies to the cached images on the CDN.”

Cheng has confirmed that the images do indeed seem to be permanently removed, as claimed in the email. She has also tested Instagram’s photo deletion policy, as Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is purchasing the photo company. Her review of Instagram says:

“I tested by deleting two photos over a period of four months. The first one was “deleted” in April, but didn’t disappear from Instagram’s servers until last week, while the second disappeared instantaneously. There was no two-day delay, or even a two-hour delay, or a two-minute delay. The moment I deleted the image, it was inaccessible from Instagram’s servers. Curious about the discrepancy, I asked the company about its policies.”

Instagram replied with the following message:

“We mark photos as deleted on [Amazon S3] after a user deletion, though they may be cached in our CDN for up to 24 hours after. There was a short time period where photos weren’t getting marked as deleted in S3, but that has been fixed. It’s easy for us to redelete if there are images where this is the case, but they should be few and far between the billions of photos that we have up there.”

It really is no major surprise that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has taken this long in dealing with this issue. They are not reputable in the customer service field . According to customerservicescorecard.com, Facebook ranks 549 out 553 companies who have a rating with them.

This rating does not surprise many of Facebook’s users who have posted comments on the site regarding the customer service. Out of 2116 comments, 2115 of them are negative. This leaves the company with a 99.95% rate of unsatisfied customers.

With stocks falling through the floor, and investors shedding the deadweight of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s shares in their portfolio, more people may begin migrating to other social networks, such as Google+. I for one, think that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) should begin some serious work on their customer service approach, and make repairs to customer complaints much more timely.