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Proposed law would give teens clean slate on social media

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SALT LAKE CITY -- More and more teens are using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vine, and they don't always use the best judgement when it comes to what they're posting.

But, if a proposed law passes, could Utah teens get a social media do-over?

If a juvenile's criminal record can be sealed when they turn 19, why not erase all of the less than flattering social media posts they've made, so they're not judged on those when applying for colleges or a job? Utah Senator Todd Weiler wants to propose a law that would allow for just that.

Have you ever done something you regret? Has it been documented and posted on social media sites? For many teens, that's what's happening and the posts could come back to bite them, which is why Weiler is proposing an online eraser law.

“If a kid posts something stupid on Facebook when he's 15 or 16 or 17, he ought to have the right to have that scrubbed before he applies for college or applies for a job,” he said.

If passed, the law would allow for anyone to request that their social profiles be scrubbed before they turn 18, and social sites like Facebook would then delete the information from their servers.

"I'm not trying to escape accountability, but just like juvenile court, I think we ought to give teens that have gotten into trouble a chance for a fresh start when they become an adult,” he said.

Parents like Samantha Stafford - who has two teenage girls - said the issue falls more with the individual doing the posting and questions if the law would be necessary.

"If you're a good person and you've made a few mistakes you're going to want it erased, but if you're continuing that lifestyle you're gonna want it continued, you're not gonna care,” she said.

FOX 13 News spoke with computer expert Matthew Might. He said, even if the law passes, it would be nearly impossible to fully erase unwanted social media posts.

"Certainly companies can delete posts from their databases,” he said. “What they can't do is go out and delete the archived versions of these posts from other websites."

Might worries a law like this could give teens a false sense of security.

"If you posted it in a public way, somebody's gonna find it,” he said.

California recently passed a law like this in September. Weiler said he'll be looking at California's law and ways to tweak it for Utah. Weiler has opened the bill, but currently nothing has been drafted.

1 Comment

  • Jonathon Montgomery

    Here we go again, creating laws that we have no business creating. I get the entire idea of protecting children but the only way to actually protect them is to keep them away from social media in the first place. Creating laws that affect companies, many of which do not operate in Utah, really creates a burden on these businesses. This is not my big concern.

    It was already mentioned that this could potentially create a false sense of security for teens. If the law is enacted we will find that this will not only be true but will be quite profound. I teach children and adults that what is transmitted on the Internet should never be related as private and that it can never be erased. When people approach social media from this perspective they are far more likely to consider there behavior before they make a stupid decision.

    I have already mentioned it but erasing data on the Internet simply dosent happen. Facebook might be able to delete data but they are also subject to a myriad of other laws that require records retention. So who wins? Then, because the data is out there, ANYONE can copy that data and archive it. In fact this is simply the rule of the day, everything that makes its way to the Internet will end up in other places. So we can never truly expect the data to be deleted.

    Instead of creating more nanny laws we should be teaching our children to take responsibility and WE should be leading them to responsible adulthood.

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