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I posted a note on Facebook an then set the privacy mode to "visible to me only", and then deactivated my account, and then deleted the note, but the screen of it still appears on the indexed results of a search engine. How long it will be there, and why?

Does it depend on the website where my content was posted or on the specific search engine's cache? And is there something I should do to make my privacy safe and delete contents which no longer exist from the results of that search engines and how long such operation does it take?

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Search engines don't like to index content that is no longer available. Once they discover it is unavailable, search engines will remove the content from their index.

The time frame for removal depends on two factors:

  1. How often the search engine crawls the page, which is determined largely by how popular the page is.
  2. What type of HTTP response code the removed content has.

If your post has many links to it from popular websites, it could get crawled several times a day. Most likely that isn't the case. Googlebot returns to re-crawl less popular content every few weeks.

Once Googlebot crawls the removed page, it will schedule it to be deleted from the index. If it finds a "404 Not Found" status, it will give it a 24 hour grace period, and then remove it from the index. If it finds a "410 Gone" status, it will remove it as soon as it can, usually within a couple hours.

I don't know what type of HTTP status Facebook uses for deleted posts. But that probably isn't the limiting factor. The limiting factor is the crawl rate. I would expect your content to be gone from the search engines in 3 to 6 weeks.

If it were you own site on your own domain (not on Facebook) you could log into Google Search Console and speed the crawl process along. You could submit a Fetch as Google request or a URL removal request. However, those requests only work if you control the domain and can verify that ownership as part of the process of signing up for Google Search Console.

  • thank you. It's DuckDuckGo, not Google (Is it different?). What you described is it the so called "right to be forgotten"? – franz1 Sep 3 '18 at 15:39
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    the right to be forgotten laws are only available to Europeans. What I have described above is how search engines act with all web sites. I'm pretty sure that DuckDuckGo is a meta search engine that returns results from other search engines, so you need to get the results removed from their source search engine. – Stephen Ostermiller Sep 4 '18 at 0:10
  • The result finally disappeared from the search results page...Do you think it's because I inserted the key words many times to see if it was still there? – franz1 Sep 4 '18 at 8:23
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    No, I don't think search engines check sites more frequently when you do lots of searches. – Stephen Ostermiller Sep 4 '18 at 9:06
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There is one way you can bypass the cache updating wait, for Google Search at least.

To get content removed from Google's cache, I have had some success using their Remove Outdated Content Tool. You don't need to own the domain for which you send the request, and if successful you generally see the content gone within 24 hours.

If the page still returns a 200, you will be asked to "Enter a word that no longer appears on the live page, but appears in the cached version." At that point you can enter a word in your post that has since been deleted.

For some reason I only have about a 70% success rate with this tool.

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