Law would let teens delete regretattable posts

September 24, 2013 7:17:52 PM PDT
Once something is posted to the web, good or bad, it's usually there forever. But a first-of-its-kind law in California aims at protecting minors by giving them the option to "erase" regrettable posts.

Jaroby Augusta, 18 and now a college freshman, took to the internet when he was in high school and trash talked a teacher online. "He didn't know what he was doing. I didn't learn anything from that class," he said.

Teenagers putting pictures and comments on the internet they shouldn't recently got a lot of publicity when 300 kids crashed former NFL player Brian Holloway's New York home and tweeted selfies partying it up and causing more than $20,000 in damage.

Beginning in 2015, minors in the Golden State will be able to tell website operators to take down those negative postings so the digital footprints don't haunt them for the rest of their lives. California will be the first state in the nation to have this law.

UC Davis professor and social media expert Andy Jones says it's like having an eraser button. "These students are going to go on and apply to college, and they're going to go on and apply for jobs. And as a result, they want to make sure they're presenting themselves professionally," he said.

Many sites like Facebook and Twitter already allow users to delete their postings, but many do not. Governor Brown says he signed the measure to take a harassing tool away from kids. "The kids who've been humiliated or bullied online now have a remedy. They can go to the provider of online materials, audio and video, and say take it down, and there's a process to make that possible," he said.

Opponents like the Center for Democracy and Technology, which pushes for online freedom and accessibility, don't like that some sites may not understand whether this new California law applies to them and may ultimately ban kids from their sites.

Still, Jaroby is glad the new law is coming. Maybe he can plead with the website operators to take down his mean post since he was a minor when he did it. "I want that taken down ASAP because it might catch up with me or something. You never know," he said.


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