ComputerWeekly.com reports on a privacy study from University of Cambridge researchers:
Announcing the results of a study, the researchers say that users who believe they have deleted an embarrassing photo may have an unpleasant surprise when they learn that it is still available on the web.
The study examined 16 popular websites which host user-uploaded photos, including social networking sites, blogging sites, and dedicated photo-sharing sites. Seven of the 16 sites surveyed kept copies of users’ photos after 30 days.
The researchers uploaded photos to each of the 16 sites, then deleted them, but kept note of URLs to the photos from the sites’ content delivery networks.
They say that these links continued to work even though a typical user would think the photos were permanently deleted. There is no simple interface to tell when a photo has ultimately been purged. […]
Social networking sites fared especially poorly in the study, with four out of eight failing to remove deleted photos, including industry leaders Facebook, MySpace, hi5, and Bebo. Blogging sites also fared poorly, with LiveJournal, Xanga, and SkyRock all failing to remove photos permanently.
Faring well in the study were the dedicated photo-sharing sites Flickr, Photobucket, and Fotki, which all removed photos within 1 hour. Three Google-operated websites, Blogger, Picasa, and Orkut, all removed photos within 48 hours. Microsoft’s Windows Live Spaces received special commendation for removing photos instantly.