Question from Shawn: My mom’s friend told her to be careful about what she puts on her Facebook page.
She said once something’s posted on Facebook it stays on the Internet forever.
I told my mom that isn’t true because if she deletes a post it’ll be gone immediately, but she said the things you delete aren’t really gone.
My question is how can I convince my mom that things she posts and then deletes won’t stay on the Internet? Or is she right and I’m wrong?
Rick’s answer: There really is no simple answer to your question Shawn, and I’ll explain why.
While it’s certainly true that anything your mom posts to her Facebook account will be immediately removed from her Timeline the instant she deletes it, the deleted information (photo, video, text, etc.) could still exist somewhere else on the Internet.
If you’re wondering how that could be possible, there’s a very simple explanation…
Depending on your mom’s Facebook privacy settings, one of her friends (or a complete stranger for that matter) could have seen the item and copied it to their computer or mobile device, then posted it on their own Facebook account.
If that were to happen (and it does happen more often than you might think), the item would indeed be gone from your mom’s Facebook Timeline after she deleted it, but it would still exist in her friend’s account.
Once something is posted on Facebook, anyone that can see the item can copy it and share it with other Facebook users, even if the original post’s privacy settings don’t allow the post to be shared via an actual “Share” button.
Even worse, stolen (i.e. copied) photos, videos and information can easily be shared in other places besides just Facebook.
They can easily be emailed to a third party, uploaded to a different social media website such as Twitter or Instagram, or even printed and shown to others in person.
As I explain in this post, true privacy simply doesn’t exist on Facebook (or anywhere on the Internet for that matter).
As you can see, there really is no guarantee that something that’s posted on Facebook won’t remain on the Internet forever, regardless of how long it’s allowed to remain in the original poster’s account.
And finally, Facebook’s servers also keep backup copies of deleted information for some time after its deletion. That allows them to comply with any court orders that might be issued for the release of the deleted info.
Bottom line: I believe the advice your mom received from her friend is worthy of careful consideration.
Once you upload something to the Internet (including Facebook), you no longer have complete control over what happens to it.
That means you should consider the very real possibility that anything and everything you post online could very well end up residing on the Internet forever.
Bonus tip: Be careful what you post, like and share if you are still in the workforce. This post explains why.