Ever heard someone say “there is no delete button on the Internet.” Most non-techs dismiss this as geek-speak… but in essence, it’s dangerously true. There are plenty of sites that take copies of web content and archive it at various points in time. Check out, Internet frog. Anyway, most people see these archives as a treasure trove… but there are those who are less nostalgic, and downright worried. Not everyone is comfortable with the idea that every keystroke, text, and picture is stored ‘somewhere in the cloud’.
Why is this scary? Think of all the people you know that have posted or shared personal information or images on the various forms of social media. The newer domains are not the only source of concern, it really all started when early web adopters began posting personal or family websites with names, addresses, pictures, resumes, etc… Web 2.0 has ushered in an era where everyone—including me—has a Blog to share opinions, good or bad. People are sharing the intimate (and sometimes illegal) ways they spend their spare time, their favourite banks, things they ‘hate’ or ‘love’, where their kids’ sports teams play, their schools, teachers, and more. For the sinister characters out there, this is fuel for identity theft or much worse.
The complete lack of information control and filtering that characterizes the new generation of content sharing has, on the one hand, liberated so much hard to find information and once marginalized opinion … but it has caused a host of legal trouble too… Consider the fact that Facebook users were openly publishing the names and images of the underage suspects in Toronto teen Stefanie Rengel’s murder in 2008, violating the protection promised to them by Canada’s young offenders policy.
The web has a very deep memory.
Many people think that since they posted information—maybe some questionable content—back 5 or 10 years ago, it’s probably all gone now. Think again. Try archive searching, or even when you Google something and it’s a dead link, click ‘cached pages’ instead – you will see nearly everything gets archived.
As the social media generation gets older, they are moving out of high school or college—where they had little to be accountable for— to the job market. Think of all the info you can gather by background checking potential employees on Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube. Imagine your cursory search on a potential hire turns up questionable or illegal activities … or even just a history of strong opinions and aggressive language. I know my ‘spidey sense’ would tell me to toss their resume aside.
I repeat: there is no delete button on the Internet.
What is more, the US Library of Congress has announced they are now archiving every public Tweet on Twitter.
Make no mistake, I’m no fear monger, but it’s good to be concerned about what people put on the Internet; especially what they let their kids do on the web. This is important because so many kids know WAY more than their parents do about social media … and they have access to the web from nearly anywhere… public access computers, smart phones etc…
So be careful what you tweet… and talk to your kids about being responsible with their online voice.
Hmmm… Maybe there’s a business opportunity here… Is ‘Watch my kids internet activity.com’ available?