California Considers "Right to Delete" for Minors
Amid growing concern among parents and teachers about what kids share online and its potential long-term impact on their lives, the
California legislature is considering enshrining a “right to delete” for minors, which would require social media sites to remove content at the minor’s request.
The law is intended to give minors (and, one imagines, their nervous parents) a modicum of control of their digital personas and reputations, by allowing them to, for example, remove an ill-judged picture or a frothing rant about an offensive subject, thus hopefully concealing it from a prospective employer twenty years down the road.
The new rule comes as an addition to California Senate bill No. 568, a measure currently under consideration that was originally introduced to prevent marketers from using minors’ personally identifying information to advertise to them online, as well as from advertising certain types of products or services to them. The bill is set to automatically become law in October, according to The New York Times.
There are some important caveats, however: the minor and their parents have no recourse if a third party posts the content and refuses to take it down, so vengeful exes and double-crossing friends still have a certain amount of latitude for airing embarrassing content (provided it doesn’t violate obscenity laws).
It’s also unclear how helpful the bill would really be in protecting kids from their own stupid mistakes, considering how easy it is for sharp-eyed social media users to copy and paste a damaging post or take a screen capture of an incriminating picture before it is officially removed. Unfortunately even strongly illegal content has a way of living on forever on the Internet.