California legislation gives minors rights to erase info

October 29, 2013 — by Minu Palaniappan and Nelson Wang

On Sept. 23, California’s Gov. Jerry Brown signed an “eraser bill” that gives California minors the right to delete online postings on social media sites. This is the first legislation of its kind, and it will require social media sites to allow minors to clear their data from Facebook’s servers starting in 2015.

This legislation aims to prevent minors from being punished too harshly for the mistakes they make in their youth. California’s legislation is a great step forward and the rest of the U.S. should emulate California’s measures. Even if the cleaning up of the information isn’t perfect, this legislation is still an important first step.

Teenagers need the freedom to make mistakes and not be penalized for life. After all, their teenage years are purely a learning experience for the professional life. With the magnifying glass that social networks have created, teenagers don’t have space to grow since they’re constantly monitored. 

For instance, many minors take pictures of themselves drinking or smoking, which can hurt their chances of employment or getting into the college of their choice. A recent Kaplan study found that one in four college admission officers checked their applicants’ Facebook profiles and their activity on the social networking site. As a result, sometimes an applicant could be turned down because the admissions officer saw an inappropriate picture or post. 

Being able to remove posts is especially important for minors, because minors have a tendency to make mistakes due to a lack of experience in life. On the other hand, adults should have enough experience not to do anything dumb and post it on Facebook. At the point where an adult makes a foolish decision and posts it onto social media, the adult should take responsibility for his/her actions.

Mainstream sites like Facebook and Twitter have some delete options, and this legislation will make all social media sites have this option. 

While it is true that companies may have a harder time building virtual communities targeted for minors, the bill won’t be seen as a disincentive to develop these networks. In fact, it may benefit businesses because minors will be more likely to use social media sites if they can delete what they post, and parents would be more willing to give permission to their children to use such sites. Therefore, the bill may actually expand the market, and would benefit the social media companies. 

California’s legislation is a great step forward; it provides teenagers the chance to learn from their mistakes without having their errors follow them for the rest of their lives. 



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