Home Tech Apple photo blunder exposes ‘deleted’ myth

Apple photo blunder exposes ‘deleted’ myth

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Apple photo blunder exposes 'deleted' myth

And even when it’s not a bug, there’s the simple fact that your photos are stored both on your device and in someone else’s cloud. You do not own that cloud. It is rented to giant tech companies, every month, often for a fee, and the way the cloud operates is not even remotely local. You can still delete your photos from the cloud, but trust that this actually happens.

“Conceptually, the hard drive and the cloud work the same,” says Wardle. “The cloud is simply someone else’s computer. However, what happens in the cloud is that it introduces more complexity: when you delete an image on your phone, it not only tells the local copy to delete, but then the signal has to go to the cloud and from there , to your other devices.”

So when you’re stuck on a plane without a decent Wi-Fi connection for five hours and decide the best way to kill time is to mercilessly scroll through your phone’s camera roll, as I sometimes do, you have almost the same control of what happens. your photos deleted like these from the plane.

“Photos doesn’t actually delete them immediately when you tap the Delete button,” says Thomas Reed, chief technology officer at security firm Malwarebytes. “Instead, it puts the deleted photos in a Recently Deleted list and they no longer appear in any albums. So the actual file remains exactly where it was, but the internal Photos database remembers to delete it.”

A framework to think about deleting photographs in the year 2024 is that it really has different levels. in Google documentation for your cloud servicesFor example, the company details its deletion stages: soft deletion, logical deletion, and final expiration. The company claims that in all cloud products, copies of deleted data are marked as available storage and are overwritten over time. Not unlike the dinosaur drive, “delete” is equivalent to “let’s leave this space available until something else comes along.”

Then there’s window deletion, where you may have accidentally slipped something to the trash or reconsidered your hasty deletion and want to get it back in no time. Both Apple and Google have policies where they keep your photos for 30 or 60 days after you’ve deleted them from your devices, so the “oh shit” toggle is available. After that, the photos supposedly disappear from your device. (There is also the idle delete in Google Photos: If you created a Google Photos account and forgot about it for two years, Google might automatically delete your content.)

Then there’s the strange version of delete where you’re pretty convinced you’ve gone through all your devices and permanently deleted your photos, and then a restore from an old iCloud backup or a pernicious little iOS bug resurfaces those photos. Surprise! That appears to be what triggered this latest incident.

There’s also the delete option that you can never stop sharing: once you’ve sent a photo to someone else or posted it on social media, it’s in the hands of other people who can download it, take a screenshot, or share it on elsewhere, unless it is legal. action requiring removal. So even if you have deleted it from your own devices, your personal bits (data) are still there.

So are your photos ever actually deleted? Yes. Also no. Perhaps big tech companies should do even more to clarify this.

We don’t choose to live in this age of digital memories, but we can choose how we frame them for our personal use. Is it better to live as if your digital photographs in the short term are creating some kind of permanent imprint somewhere, or to throw caution to the wind knowing that in the very long term most of your digital photos will mean very little? After 28,941 photos on my iPhone and in the cloud, and the risk of more deleted photos returning, I still don’t know the answer.

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