Because its policy is to delete data 90 days after an account closure, Facebook is unable to comply with a court order that it turn over information about the revenge-porn-posting user.
The BBC reports on a conundrum: the retention policy offers users a degree of privacy when they leave the service, but may also provide cover for privacy-invading criminals.
"The offending account was ultimately deleted before we received any request for user data, so all information about it was removed from our servers in accordance with our terms and applicable law," Facebook said in a statement.
"We deeply empathise with the victim's experience and share her desire to keep this kind of non-consensual imagery off of Facebook."
The court said independent experts should be given access to Facebook's servers to check whether the data was indeed untraceable.
It wouldn't be unreasonable for Facebook to retain data for longer if an account was deleted or suspended due to complaints or flagged content.