Zuckerberg Has No Clue How Long Facebook Takes to Delete Your Data If You #DeleteFacebook [Backup Copies Are Also Created]

Rafia Shaikh
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Illustration: Khylin Woodrow, Bloomberg

Facebook is having a happy day thanks to lawmakers who are using today's hearing as a (5-hours long!) session on how Facebook and social media work turning Zuckerberg into an instructor. While we likely won't see any real reforms coming to social platforms looking at today's session, but the hearing is giving us another chance to look at how Mark Zuckerberg continues to shift blame or avoid responding to questions on monopolizing the industry and being on a 14-year-long apology tour.

Most of the answers he has given today are a rehash of what has already been said by either Zuck or Facebook spokespeople and bring nothing new to the table. Anything off those topics is resulting in Zuckerberg saying his team will get back to provide more details.

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One such response came when the 33-year-old CEO was asked how long Facebook takes to completely remove all the data of a user who decides to #DeleteFacebook.

Zuckerberg has no idea...

In response, the founder, chairman and CEO of Facebook said that he wasn't sure how long it takes the social networking site to delete data once a user has decided to leave the platform.

Senator: How long do you keep a user's data... after they have left [Facebook]

Zuckerberg: I don't know the answer off the top of my head.

The Facebook chief went on to add that the company deletes all the data as quickly as is "reasonable," and that it's a complex system that takes a while.

"I think we try to move as quickly as possible."

Later, Senator Cory Gardner read parts of the terms of service related to account deletion, which said that backup copies may persist after an account is deleted for some amount of time. Zuckerberg again wasn't sure exactly how long those backup copies are stored but adds that they are eventually deleted.

Senator Gardner: In the user agreement it says when you delete I.P. content, if — if it is deleted in manner similar to — it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time. How long is that?

Zuckerberg: Senator, I don't know, sitting here, what our current systems are on that. But the intent is to get all the content out of the system as quickly as possible.

G: And does that mean your user data as well? It talks about I.P. content, is that the same thing as your user data; it can sit in backup copies?

Z: Senator, I think that that is probably right. I - I don't - I'm not sitting here today having full knowledge of - of our current state of the systems around wiping all of the data out of backups. So I can follow up with you on that afterwards, but what I can tell you ...

G: But all backups get wiped?

Z: That is certainly the way it's — it — it's supposed to work.

G: Has there ever been a failure of that?

Z: Senator, I — I don't know. But this is — if we tell people that we're going to delete their data then we need to do that.

WhatsApp's co-founder Brian Acton, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX are some of the top names who made a statement by deleting their Facebook accounts. While we will be following up with Facebook to learn exactly how long it takes Facebook to remove data once a user has chosen to hit the delete button, you can learn about different ways to restrict data access and strengthen privacy controls over on Facebook in our detailed guide.

[LIVE] Highlights from today's hearing

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