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California Bill 568 Allows Minors to “Erase” Social Media Footprint

October 8, 2013 / by Raquel Royers

oopsEver regretted a picture you uploaded to Facebook? Or a tweet you tweeted on Twitter?

Well, you’re not the only one and California legislators have taken note. Under Bill 568, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and similar social media platforms will soon be legally required to remove content or information posted by the user, if they request them to do so.

 

Before you get really excited, there’s a catch here. That magic digital “eraser button” is only available for minors. Dang it, right? I guess adults will have to remain responsible with their online posting.

 

Deleting the Evidence

 

Only a minor, a person under the age of 18, can request for their social media footprint to be deleted, forever. Forever! According to Common Sense Media, a San Francisco based advocacy group that pushed for the bill, three out of four teenagers have a profile on a social media networking site, such as Facebook or Twitter. Additionally, 59 percent have deleted or edited something that they posted in the past, and 19 percent have posted updates, comments, photos, or videos that they later regretted sharing.

 

With Bill 568, all of those photos uploaded from the party they had while their parents were out of town, are gone. Woohoo! No more digital evidence left for their parents to find, or more importantly, their future employers.

 

“These sites offer many benefits for connecting, communicating, and learning, yet children and teens often self-reveal before they self-reflect and may post sensitive personal information about themselves -- and about others -- without realizing the consequences,” said James Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media.

 

But wait; is that content really, truly gone? Just because you delete it doesn’t mean someone else didn’t see it and save it to his or her desktop or snap a screen shot, right?

 

That’s the wonder of the Internet! There is definitely the possibility that nothing is ever truly gone forever. A Common Sense Media poll found that 94 percent of adults and 92 percent of teens said they should be able to request the deletion of all their personal information held by search engines, social networks, or marketing companies after a specific time period.

 

California Governor Jerry Brown approved the bill September 23, putting the bill in full gear and making some teenagers very happy. The provisions of Bill 568 will become effective as of January 1, 2015.

 

Check out this short video for some additional details on Bill 568: 

 

A broader concept of this bill covers the privacy rights for minors in the digital world as a whole, also addressing that if the social media service is aware that the user is a minor they are obligated to not market or advertise certain products to that said user.  That is only in effect of course if the user provides his or her actual age to the social media service and does not lie about it.

 

These marketing and advertising restrictions include:

 

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Firearms or handguns
  • Tanning devices
  • Permanent tattoo
  • Aerosol container of paint that is capable of defacing property
  • Drug paraphernalia
  • Any tobacco products
  • And many, many more which can be viewed here

 

Much of this could be prevented if users would just think a little and consider what they are posting before they press that enter button. For those (adults) who don’t have access to the new magic eraser button, follow these few words of advice to save yourself some major social media embarrassment.

 

Tips for not posting a status or photo you’ll regret:

 

  • If you have to consider whether or not you should post it, you probably shouldn’t.
  • Don’t Facebook, Tweet, Instagram, etc. while intoxicated.
  • If you would be OK with your mother or boss seeing your post, then continue on.
  • Never post a slanderous, libelous or derogatory statement.
  • Never post a photo or status of yourself engaging in illegal activities.
  • Don’t bash your boss, work place or fellow co-workers.

 

Follow these simple rules and there is no need for an erase button! But what do you think? Should minors be allowed to request the removal of content from these social media sites, or is it giving them an excuse to post it in the first place?

 

Related blog posts: 

Why is Social Media Important? Isn’t is Only for Teenagers? 

Why is Social Media Important: Best and Worst Times to Post on LinkedIn 

The Importance of Compelling Facebook Status Updates

Topics: Social Media, News

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