Are Social Media Posts Permanent?

You’ve probably heard more than once that anything you post on the internet or social media is permanent. That can be true, but only in some cases. Let’s take a look at when and how it can be true, and when it isn’t.

iphone-home-screenFirst of all, if you regret what you have been posting or comments you’ve made on a social media network or other interactive website, the most straightforward solution might be to simply delete the account. According to website, the following popular networks do not allow users to delete their accounts:

  • Kik (messaging)
  • Picasa (picture hosting)
  • Pinterest (content sharing)
  • Steam (online gaming)
  • YouTube (video)

Of course, you may be able to delete individual posts or comments. How you do that and how difficult it is varies by network. A simple Googel search should get you the info you need.

Let now consider the major social networks, and in which cases your content is permanent:

Facebook – content that you post to Facebook can be deleted, unless someone else reposts that content (posts it themselves, not hits the “share” button). In that case, even if you delete the post, it will still exist on that friend’s timeline. If a friend posts your Facebook content to another site on the internet, it is there to stay. If you delete your Facebook account entirely, it takes about 2 weeks to happen, and if you or someone else who has your password logs into your account it will be reactivated. Even after deleting your account, according to Facebook, “Copies of some material (photos, notes, etc.) may remain in our servers for technical reasons, but this material is disassociated from any personal identifiers and completely inaccessible to other people using Facebook.” You can take that with a grain of salt.

Twitter – tweets can be deleted, except in the case that someone else takes a screen cap your tweet and tweets it himself or saves it on his computer. If that happens, the only way you can permanently delete to tweet is to reach out to the retweeter and have him agree to delete it as well. You can delete your Twitter account entirely, but if you do your tweets that have been shared will still exist, your data will be retained on Twitter’s servers for 30 days, and your account will be reactivated if you log in within that time frame. Even if a tweet is deleted, it may have been captured and saved by an aggregator such as Favstar.

Instagram – If you delete an Instagram picture, it is completely deleted even if one of your friends has favorited it. If your account is set to public, your pictures may have been posted to a to an Instagram aggregation website such as Iphoneogram (this site may now be defunct), and sorted by user name or hashtag. You are not likely to get those pictures deleted. This is just one of the reasons that for younger users, we strongly recommend Instagram accounts be set to private.

Privacy settings can in many cases keep your content from becoming a permanent record, but the only foolproof method is to use good judgment in what you post – all of the time.

Did we miss anything? Do you need help with a specific issue? Please feel free to leave a comment or send us an email.


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