We were all teenagers once, and I’m pretty sure we all have those things that we wished we hadn’t done during those days (or at least wished we hadn’t gotten caught doing). And I can only speak for myself, but during those times where my good sense took a temporary leave of absence, I paid for it with consequences from parents, teachers, and employers. But now, one state government wants to make it possible for teenagers to get a clean slate for poor judgment, specifically while using social media.
California governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill that would require social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr to provide a way for users under the age of 18 to permanently remove pictures and posts from their sites. The first of its kind in the nation, CA Senate Bill 568 intends to prevent the type of harmful reputation damage that can follow a child around for a very long time. An “eraser button” would need to be added to social networks, or deletion methods would need to be made more apparent to kids. Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat who wrote the bill, said it protected children "who often act impetuously with postings of ill-advised pictures or messages before they think through the consequences. They deserve the right to remove this material that could haunt them for years to come.” The law would go into effect in January 2015. Facebook and Twitter already have a way to delete posts or tweets, but this law would require any social network to have a delete button. Other parts of the bill prevent the targeted marketing of guns, tobacco, or other potentially harmful products to minors as well. It’s not clear how this law will apply to minors only, as any type of delete button would probably be available to everyone, and a lot of teens lie about their age to register for some social networks in the first place.
I have to admit at first I thought that this was just another case of an entitled generation being told that everyone gets a trophy and being absolved of the responsibility that comes with their actions. But when you consider that according to some statistics, 92% of U.S. children have an online presence by the time they’re two years old, that’s a whole lot of time to mess your life up on the internet. And while I do believe I paid the price for my youthful indiscretions, I was at least able to successfully move on with my life. These days once anything negative about you hits the web, it can stay there literally forever, affecting college and job prospects for years to come.
So what do you think? Should kids be allowed to get rid of their permanent internet record when they’ve been irresponsible and get a clean slate? Let us know in the comments.
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