Why it's "nearly impossible" to delete something from the internet

19 Sept 2022

Most people likely assume they can always erase their posts, messages, and personal data from services as they go about their daily lives online. However, this week's tech hearing called into doubt that fundamental premise. Peiter "Mudge" Zatko, the former security chief at Twitter, expanded on the shocking claims he made in a whistleblower disclosure that was first covered by CNN and The Washington Post last month when he testified before a Senate committee that the social network does not consistently delete the data of users who cancel their accounts.

Zatko said in his testimony and whistleblower revelation that Twitter sometimes fails to reliably remove users' data because it has lost track of the data. In response to Zatko's accusations, Twitter has generally defended itself by claiming that his statements present a "false narrative" of the firm. Twitter has previously responded to inquiries from CNN by stating that it has mechanisms in place to "begin a deletion process," but it has not specified whether it usually completes that process.

Although Zatko's charges are shocking, Sandra Matz was once again reminded of "how frequently stupid we are" when it comes to giving our info online.
Whatever you post online, don't ever expect it to be private again, advised Matz, a professor and social media expert at Columbia Business School. "It's nearly impossible to remove something off the internet or press the reset button."

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