The internet is not like a diary, although many people use online journals, blogs, and social networking sites to share their innermost thoughts, feelings, and secrets with the world. With a hardbound diary, you only had to be afraid of your little brother finding it under your mattress; but with the web, the words you write are etched in stone for the entire world to read. And even when you remove your accounts and disable your profiles, you may not really be gone. With Google’s caching, the Way Back Machine, and even the websites themselves, your data is retained for a lot longer than you may have realized.
Take for example, the U.K. user who realized that he was unable to fully delete his Facebook profile. It seems users wishing to remove their Facebook profiles are only given the option to deactivate their accounts. These accounts become inaccessible, but still remain in Facebook’s database. To really wipe out all information, Facebook advises users log in and manually remove all data from their profile before deactivating their account. This greatly concerned Dave Evans, the senior data protection practice manager at the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office: “One of the things that we’re concerned about is that if the onus is entirely on the individual to delete their own data,” he told BBC Radio 4.”An individual who has deactivated their account might not find themselves motivated enough to delete information that’s about them, maybe on their wall or other people’s site.”
One might say, “Of course!” But it concerns me that this is impacting the lives of children, who one thinks might well not know better. But is this a technical problem, a legal one, or a parenting issue?