A conversation with Tom Edwards, VP of Digital Strategy & Innovation
How will California’s proposed social media eraser law work?
The new law mand ates functionality that already exists on a number of platforms. The ability to hide or erase content on sites such as Facebook and Twitter already exist. The area that may drive the most impact is tied to some of the advertising restrictions such as those including alcohol, firearms, tobacco products, etc. Facebook has made moves to eliminate controversial ads. As a number of social platforms move toward sustainable revenue models, this may have the most positive intent to protect youth.
Does it have to be approved in other states as well?
The California law may set a precedent that may be adopted by other states, but the more important area of focus is the location of a number of the platforms in question. Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Yahoo are all headquartered in California so the rest of the nation may receive some of the benefits by proxy.
What are the upsides, possible downsides, and unintended consequences?
The upside is the ability for a young person to maintain some semblance of privacy. The downside is that an individual should be accountable for their behavior and not post content they may not be proud of regardless of age. The unintended consequences are setting a precedent where accountability is secondary to protecting one’s reputation. The new law allows the individual to have control over unflattering content, but if friends post that content on their account or publish to a third party site, the website would not have to pull that. So this still applies.
Keep in mind that any publicly available content, such as that found on Twitter, are curated by third parties such as Topsy’s Twitter archive. The Topsy example archives all public content since Twitter launched in 2006. So even if the tweet is deleted, there is a chance the content could have been picked up by a third party service.