California will be the first state to require websites to provide the ability to delete posts and related content to users under the age of 18, something that is aimed at helping those who post less-than-savory things at a tender age eradicate them from the Internet. The mandate, which is being called the “eraser law”, will only apply to content directly posted by the minor user, not content redistributed or shared by others.
The new law — which originated from Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) — was signed yesterday, and will be required starting in 2015. The idea behind it is that teenagers and children don’t necessarily think about what it is they’re posting, or will perhaps a couple years down the road form different opinions on the matter or a higher level in discretion.
The ability to delete content will help these young users avoid having a one-off rant or otherwise negative statement, image, picture, or other similar content follow them beyond their teen years into the adult world of college and careers — both of which increasingly look at one’s online presence and factor what is found into decisions regarding employment and such.
The law would require websites to provide a way for the users to delete the content, whether directly or through a request submitted to the proper channel. Though it is a solid way to get rid of an I-shouldn’t-have-posted-that mistake, there are some limitations to what the law offers, the biggest two being that it only applies to minors and that it doesn’t relate to content others post (or re-post) from a minor.
This would mean that while a teenager has the ability to look back over his or her previous posts and have certain ones deleted, someone who is, for example, in their 20s and regretting something they posted years ago will not have the ability to have it retroactively nuked. Likewise, if a teenager posts something online and it is redistributed by others, that redistributed content will remain, as well as any content posted by others relating to the minor (such as an embarrassing picture).