California now has a law that lets minors erase their online history. This move lets young people get a fresh start prior to applying for jobs or moving forward in life.
The ubiquitous use of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, has led to potentially damaging, or at least embarrassing, information or photos on millions of people that can be easily found by anyone. These social media posts may have, at the time, appeared harmless but there could be longstanding consequences as potential employers, or new personal relationships, dig up the past with a quick search.
The bill was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, reports Agence France-Presse. Effective Jan. 1, 2015, Google, Facebook, Twitter and other sites must eliminate content if requested to do so by a minor.
The new law states, “On and after January 1, 2015, require the operator of an Internet Web site, online service, online application, or mobile application to permit a minor, who is a registered user of the operator’s Internet Web site, online service, online application, or mobile application, to remove, or to request and obtain removal of, content or information posted on the operator’s Internet Web site, service, or application by the minor.” The law also adds restrictions on what services and products, such as alcohol or tanning, can be marketed or advertised to minors and prohibits the collection of personal data from minors for marketing or advertising certain products.
According to PCWorld, there is no time frame for when an operator has to delete the requested content and there is no penalty for not acting promptly. Websites must establish clear guidelines that allows for minors to remove the content by themselves or request its removal. There is no limit on the amount of data that can be requested for removal, but there are some restrictions. Facebook does not have to delete any content but, if requested, must make it hidden, and the law does not cover posts made from a third party, such as a friend, notes PCWorld.
Giving a clean slate to minors has obvious benefits, but there are some concerns about the amount of information that needs to be revealed based on this new law. Speaking to AFP, the Family Online Safety Institute said minors now need to disclose their age as well as their location to these sites. Many commenters seem to be opposed to the law, saying that minors posting images of underage drinking or sharing too much information to the public should learn the consequences of such actions.