There is a growing legion of concern about what teens are posting on the internet and social media sties. This concern should not be limited to teens. This is an opportunity for everyone that posts information on the internet to take heed of this warning from the head of Google, Eric Schmidt, who recently stated that “teens’ mistakes will never go away”. This should actually have been stated as anyone’s internet mistakes will never go away.
It should be common knowledge that internet communication is public information, whether intended by the poster or not. However, many mistakenly believe that because something might be controlled through a password, that it cannot be accessed. The reality is that information is stored on many servers. Many sites are linked to one another, thus information is captured and stored often beyond ones imagination. Many also mistakenly think that by deleting information, it disappears. The information does not. It was stored not only on the original website, but likely was also stored on a myriad of different website servers, mail servers, and other places. Eric Schmidt makes a point that needs to be emphasized to kids using the internet. But before kids will learn, adults must learn. How many are aware that information on the internet could be a forever thing? Much like a bell can never be un-rung, information on the internet can never be fully expunged.
Some religions believe that upon entry to heaven, there is a life review. The good news is that one no longer has to wait. Looking at ones digital fingerprints will provide more than enough information to create a pretty good dossier about character and life experiences. There are companies that create profiles based on internet based information. Sometimes the information found throughout the internet is used in the employment screening process. From now forward, everyone should consider all information posted on the internet is part of a living life review that extends throughout one’s lifetime. Perhaps some future legislation might offer some privacy protections, but at least for now, all public information is fair game. If being judged by something posted on the internet causes concern or discomfort, the best remedy is to cease and desist. Don’t post anything anywhere on the internet that one would not like plastered on the front page of a daily newspaper.
Are teachers and parents listening? Years ago, there was sometimes a stern warning to students that transgressions would be put on the ‘permanent record card’. While we now might all chuckle at the permanent record card, it has been put on steroids. It is now the internet.