Stuffing the Social Media Genie back in

Lawmakers are attempting to give minors a "do over" when it comes to online mistakes. But the chances of being erase one's digital past are still slim to none.

Often I find that I'm shaking my head at one thing or another when I read the morning tweets/posts and so forth. If it isn't someone posting copies of their credit or debit cards, kids taking selfies or someone deciding to twerk it isn't a day ending in "Y".

This story from 2007 that is forever burned into my memory is that of Kevin Colvin,

Kevin Colvin, an intern at Anglo Irish Bank's North American arm, was busted when he told his manager, Paul Davis, that he'd miss work due to what colleagues took to be a "family emergency"...and attached it to his reply, copying the rest of the office as he did it. The email thread is now spreading around the net.

Well, it turns out that he had in fact knocked off to attend a Halloween party. Social media had claimed a victim. One of the first of many more to come. 

The genie does not fit back in the bottle depsite any notion people may have to the contrary. That's why this article from SFGate caused me to take a deep breath and sit down. 

Lawmakers in California want to create a "do over" law. 

Legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday will require Web companies, starting in 2015, to remove online activity - whether it be scandalous or simply embarrassing - should a California minor request it.


The thinking, say supporters of the new "eraser" law, is that boys will be boys (and girls, well, girls) and that the indiscretions of youth shouldn't haunt them down the road.

While on the surface of it this sounds all well and wonderful you don't get to erase past mistakes online. The very nature of of the Internet and social media makes this, if not impossible, exceptionally problematic. 

Don't get me wrong. I actually like the idea that a person under 18 can erase their past misgivings. As pointed out by a pair of teens in the article,

"As a youth, you make a bunch of mistakes," said Alicia Cabral, 17. "If you put it on the Internet, it follows you everywhere."


Her friend, 15-year-old Diana Cortez, added that caution is still in order.


Even if you make sure not to post photos of yourself, you can't stop your friends from doing so, she said. "If you use drugs and there are pictures of you doing that and you apply for a job, you won't get hired."

Privacy, great idea(l). Giving kids a chance to "do over", great idea. But, the cold reality of it is that this is most likely nothing more than tilting at windmills. 

The simple answer, think before you post that picture.

Image used under CC from The Blind Glass

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