Online Teens Need Better Judgment, Not Just An Eraser Button


Kids say the darnest' things. Luckily, now they can be removed from the internet.

Minors no longer have to worry about posting inappropriate or compromising online content because of a new California law that requires a website to feature an "eraser button" that enables minors to remove anything they post. This ground-breaking law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown will take effect in 2015. The upcoming legislation applies to content and photos posted online. Common Sense Media, a non-profit that focuses on children's digital privacy, prompted this forthcoming law.

The belief surrounding the legislation is that young people tend to act before thinking things through. This is an effective and necessary law that is sure to gain approval from parents and advocates. California has a track record of driving new laws into the mainstream, including those concerning emission standards and marijuana laws. Websites now have two years to figure out how to comply with policies that will most likely be adapted in other states.

"Often you need to comply with the most restrictive state as a practical matter because the internet doesn't really have state boundaries," said lawyer Mali Friedman.

This law may discourage businesses from marketing their brands or products to teens because of the legal uncertainties surrounding it. The Center for Democracy and Technology, a think tank, is concerned websites will not understand what their legal obligations are.

Another issue under this law is one of permanent erasure. Although teens can delete content and photos, just how "deleted" are they?

According to the New York Times, a teenage boy from Texas, Justin Carter, posted a presumably sarcastic comment on Facebook last February that involved a possible school shooting. Although his family insists it was a joke he made while playing a video game, Carter ended up in a Texas jail for six months on a felony terrorism charge. His father questions whether this new law will ensure the permanent deletion of content.

As with any legislation in place, there will be more questions than answers, but it is important to note that this law will prevent young people from doing regretful things.

Now, if only there could be an online erase button for adults.