You Can Take It Back, But You Can Never Delete It

by | Nov 1, 2011 | Digital

The word delete is defined as “to strike out, remove, cancel, erase, expunge”.

Facebook however has unofficially changed that definition to mean something more along the lines of “to take out of plain view”. Because in fact, nothing is or can ever be truly deleted from the social media platform. It can only be removed from plain view.

Are you keeping that in mind?

Once And For All
Facebook keeps a record of everything that you ever say, in messages, wall posts, status updates, even in chat.  They also keep a record of every friend connection, even ones you have un-friended who have deleted their own profiles. Facebook knows when you were friends, for how long, and everything that was on their profile at that time.  They even record every like and every poke — forever.

Pictures are the only anomaly, as server space seems to still hinder Facebook from permanently saving all of them.  But even the pictures you have marked as private aren’t truly private; they can still be directly linked to by savvy web surfers.  However you can be certain that a record is still kept of every picture title and who was tagged in each, even if they have been untagged and the image was “deleted”.

Count the Cost
As a social media user, personally or professionally, it is critical to be aware of these things.

From a marketing perspective, there is no room for blunders that involve trade secrets, slander, or anything that could lead to a courtroom where these records can be pulled in their entirety.

It’s not so much the silly types of things that are said or done that are the biggest concern. The issue comes with haphazard comments, the types of things written in late night emails sent in frustration that appear clearly inappropriate or ill-worded the next morning.  These are what can come back to bite you long after they’ve been “deleted”.

Reach With Care
So the question is, what do we do? The best defense is to chose your words carefully, think about how far they could go and if you’re comfortable with them going there.  In social media marketing we strive to increase our reach.  This goes hand in hand with being sensitive about what our words can do if they reach as far as we hope they will. Don’t post on a whim or if you’re uncertain of your audience or content, and never post out of emotion (post with emotion, but not driven by it).

The best strategy is “aiming to be above reproach in the sight of everyone” Romans 12:17.

The preceding post was inspired by Emil Protalinski’s recent post Facebook: Releasing your personal data reveals our trade secrets.

George Konetes