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Are you ashamed of your online past?

12:03 UK time, Wednesday, 18 August 2010

People will eventually be allowed to automatically change their name on reaching adulthood to escape their online past, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt has predicted. Are you worried about your history online?

Mr Schmidt told the Wall Street Journal that he doesn't believe "society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time", and predicted that young people could be able to change their name "in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends' social media sites."

But his concerns about individual activity on social networks forming a permanent record are "overstated", according to some experts. Social media consultant Suw Charman-Anderson told the BBC that "the idea that everything is stored online is not true - it will be quite some time before that can become true because of the enormity of the internet."

Are you worried about information about you stored online? Or are these worries "overstated"? Is there something that you would be happy to delete permanently from the web?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Hmm...

    Well, as you can tell, I'm speaking through a username.

    I think, given that social media is the way it is today, and is so easily accessible to children, it is relatively easy for children to do something they regret, accidentally or intentionally.
    I'm always wary of online sites that require me to use my full name, as I'd much rather it be an issue of choice and trust than compulsion.

    By allowing users to have avatars and usernames it shelters real people from their internet presence, where certain social barriers are often lifted and people are either far more willing, or far more able, to talk openly.

    So I can see the merit in this idea, but it'd be far better if social media sites didn't require people to give their real-life details if they're in a position where they're likely to be able to do something a bit daft.

  • Comment number 2.

    Sadly, not of the age to be concerned about ye olde japes on the net!

    However, some younger, and not so young people, can treat the internet as a harmless and entertaining toy? Which of course, it's not.

    Still, one of the biggest problems, has to be online banking and identity fraud online. Every time you give your financial or personal information online ... you have to think twice as ask the question .. 'would I give this info' to a stranger?

  • Comment number 3.

    Are you worried about information about you stored online? Or are these worries "overstated"? Is there something that you would be happy to delete permanently from the web?

    Nope - that's what psuedonyms are for.

    As for social networking, i have this thing, I belive the technical decription, is 'friends' - real people I interact with on a regular basis- which means I can't really be bothered to be polite to some kid I went to school with and lost touch with 15 years ago, via a 3rd party website.

  • Comment number 4.

    I discovered posting rap will offend your girlfriend immensely

  • Comment number 5.

    Ashamed?? Absolutely NOT
    Besides, I NEVER show my face ;-) LOL!!

  • Comment number 6.

    No since there's no naked pics of me or anyone I've been with (as far as I know :-0)

    I've chatted, emailed, webcammed, surfed etc.. and all in good taste, even if I do say so myself!

  • Comment number 7.

    I dont think people should be allowed to change a name, keeping a history ensures that people are more careful about what they say and do rather than hiding behind anonimity.

    While there are the odd events where someone makes a big mistaker like , Claire Swires whose sexual email was published on her behalf. Written to her boyfriend who forwarded on to the world.

    Seriously anything published on the net should be kept. That will ensure that people actually think about what they say and do and understand there are consequencies sometimes unforeseen.

    Its time people take resposibility for their actions.

  • Comment number 8.

    I am wary about anything I disclose and have not put anything on the net that could be embarrasing.
    Any comments I make on HYS, my blog or whatever, are my own personal opinions and I am more than happy to express my opinions as that is what we are entitled to do in a democracy where we are fortunate to gave freedom of speech. I also respect the law to ensure I dont say anything libellous.
    If anyone disagrees with my comments, I respect that, as long as they respect my right to have my opinions and views on any subject under the sun.
    The worst there is of me on the net, is a Calendar Boy photograph, but its as tasteful as any shot you will see of any of the calendar girls!

  • Comment number 9.

    When Obama was elected I was so enthusiastic and said so on line. I deeply regret this now.

  • Comment number 10.

    "Are you ashamed of your online past?"

    I have nothing online of which I should be ashamed.

    Then again, I have nothing online to be proud of, either.

    I can't recall having contributed anything of significance, nor of having detracted anything of importance either.

    And I've stood by some of my comments and apologized for others.

    Perhaps, I ought change my change my name username to Plain_Vanilla.

  • Comment number 11.

    My name is common enough that it could be Any "Rob", it's about the only good thing about having such a common name.

    Does this also mean that people undergo plastic surgery to avoid being recognised from embarrassing photos on the net? It's not like anyone remembers/thinks of them 5 seconds after closing the browser.

  • Comment number 12.

    To be honest, the idea of changing your name upon reaching adulthood has a lot going for it in general. It could be something of a rite of passage. Some people out there get stuck with hideous names by parents who don't really know any better, others would gladly jettison their family names...the more I think about this, the more it makes sense on so many different levels!

  • Comment number 13.

    In 20 years you will be considered slightly weird or a spy or an upper-class snob if your naked or embarrassing pictures cannot be found of the internets.

  • Comment number 14.

    Never said anything to be ashamed about! Usernames and avatars allow people to be less inhibited in what they say but the downside is that people post some really awful stuff that they would never say face to face or in a letter. I think there needs to be more accountability for what people post and the providers need to stop hiding behind "freedom of speech".

  • Comment number 15.

    Not really. Maybe a little embarrassed by my naivete when I first came online. But otherwise no. I tend to make sure my publicly viewable stuff is basic.
    I also like the anonymity when online. With Facebook, I'm just careful as to whom I add. I wouldn't add employers and I don't add everyone I went to school with either.

  • Comment number 16.

    No, I'm not ashamed of my online past as such, although I am fairly protective about my identity.

    I have no problem with anyone who genuinely needs my real identity - professional or personal - and will happily give it out where necessary, but if my real identity is not needed then I'll usually use the 'net under a pseudonym.

    I'm not paranoid though and a determined person could certainly trace me; it's just that I can't see any point in broadcasting my real identity to everyone online, particularly with identity theft so rife at the moment.

    In most cases a real identity is unnecessary - just because something is posted under a pseudonym it doesn't mean it's any less genuine in terms of content.

  • Comment number 17.

    So, Eric Schmidt predicts that people will eventually be allowed to change their name on reaching adulthood. Golly, there's a thought!
    I've got news for you Eric. Adults (at least in the UK, dunno about elsewhere) can already change their name whenever they want. Some do, most don't. Get a grip man.

  • Comment number 18.

    Yesterday I wrote "F.O." in a HYS post, meaning Flying Officer of course, and it could have been embarrassing if it were misunderstood! The moderators told me it broke the rules, this is surprising considering some of the trash that is published. Fortunately I use a pen name and the moderators saved me from embarrassement anyway! If the moderators could hack out some of the "verbiage" or verbal garbage such as 'on a daily basis' or 'online sites' and any other pretentious abusage of the English language, the world would be a better place!

  • Comment number 19.

    Are you worried about information about you stored online?

    Not at the moment, but i feel that will increase for many as times go on and the likes of Google/Microsoft/Apple/Facebook etc increase new ways to store more information about us. (If thats possible as they're storing so much now!)

    These companies may give you the option to permanetly delete yourself from them, but with all the additional plugins you've used, 3rd party apps, search engines storeing information about your profile etc... your information will always be stored elsewhere even if you think its been removed!!

  • Comment number 20.

    I think Google aren't looking at the bigger picture here ... who is to say that folk are not using their real names in the first place ?

    Stick with what your good at Google, and dont worry yourself about petty things like this.

  • Comment number 21.

    How perfectly ridiculous. This is a charter to behave badly and not to have to worry about consequences or responsibility. Mr Schmidt also appears to have forgotten that we are not one global nation with one global jurisdiction and one global culture; what he thinks would work neatly in the USA wouldn't even be dreamed of in most European nations and to think otherwise is supremely arrogant, but then "arrogance" is a byword for much of the US internet elite.

  • Comment number 22.

    Are you ashamed of your online past? hahahahahahahaha

  • Comment number 23.

    I think a lot of people over-react to what is, as the article says, only “youthful hijinks” being seen by others.

    Most people’s Facebook profiles have pictures of them drunk on a night out, or stories about things they did that weren’t so big and clever. But is that so awful for people to see?

    I personally wouldn’t be bothered about, say, my boss looking up my profile and seeing these things because I’d bet anything that when he was that age, he did one or two stupid drunken things himself. As long as I’m a good employee and a good person, why should I worry about people knowing that I was young and silly once – after all, who wasn’t?

    If I really wouldn’t want people to see it, I don’t put it online. Much more simple than changing my name in a few years.

  • Comment number 24.

    People will eventually be allowed to automatically change their name...Do you think changing names will seriously help, or simply provide you with mistaken psychological comfort?
    Individual activity on social networks, regardless of what expert says what, does form a permanent record, a trail, breadcrumbs that will lead directly to you.
    Remember "1984" by George Orwell?
    The book is about a totalitarian state; every citizen is under surveillance. The government knows exactly what they are doing all the time. This book enshrined the term: "Big Brother is watching you!".
    The government may not be able to watch every move you make, but the capability is growing, especially with location-based social networking sites (or geolocation sites).
    Every time you check in on a geolocation site, everyone on your network knows where you are. Foursquare and Brightkite are just a couple of these sites. Twitter has also added geolocation, but can turn it off, if you remember to turn it off. In addition, Facebook plans to launch a geolocation site as well. There has been a lot of speculation as to what will happen to Foursquare when Facebook gets in on the action, but I think it's logical to assume that Facebook will simply buy Foursquare and Brightkite.
    Is “Big Brother” really watching you? Yes, and you have enabled him! These sites may be "fun" right now, but do you know what the information could be used for in the future? Are you worried about information stored online? You should be because it's very difficult to locate "derivative" uses (attached to this information); in fact, oftentimes, derivative use is left up to the network - without any need to consult with you.

  • Comment number 25.

    I haven't visited any social networking sites and wouldn't know how to go about it. I tried Friends Reunited once, massive mistake!! Couldn't then remove my info.
    Spoke about this with some real friends in the pub and found that 90% of them had real lives, with real outdoor interests in a real world. None of them had network accounts and thought them pathetic and sad. I have to agree with them. As they said - life's too short, with too much to see, to spend it in front of an inanimate box.

  • Comment number 26.

    If I did change my name though, I'd change it to Charlotte Rampling because that's just an excellent name. It conjures up thoughts of hay-lofts and complex undergarments.

    Although I am a bloke and the name might not be ideal.

  • Comment number 27.

    In the past, on HYS, I supported the invasion of Iraq.
    I wrote that the primeminister of UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland cannot lie.
    I wrote that those anti-war protesters are acting hysterically and illogically. I thought a primeminister would not lie so blatantly.

    So far, this is the only online bit of mine that I am ashamed of.

  • Comment number 28.

    Everything that you say on HYS is kept - it has to be so that they can kick you out for sending too many "...has been removed..." posts. It is automatically linked to your email and after that any IT punter can figure out who you are.

    The BBC/HYS/Socialist Workers Party here on HYS probably probably keep all the posts for the next labour governments' Stazi secret police to mill over. All us non-PC, white, taxpaying right wingers will soon find themselves swinging from a jib whilst the "you should be ashamed" crowd cheer on the death of capitalism.

    I would change my name to Gordon Brown but even the jib would be more preferable.

  • Comment number 29.

    I have certain financial details online but I have no worries about how secure they are. There's nothing else out there that I want permanently deleted.

  • Comment number 30.

    I have nothing to be ashamed of.

    signed

    T. Blair

  • Comment number 31.

    Sounds fairly pointless to me.

    1. Most sites (like HYS) doesn't display a real name anyway.
    2. Most sites that demand a real name are probably full of fake names
    3. Sites where you did use a real name (Facebook maybe), what would you change your name to anyway?
    4. You can enter any age you like, so "adulthood" is just a mouse click away.

  • Comment number 32.

    Not at all. As long as you blog your opinions as you would (hopefully) speak... with some respect and forethought instead of hiding behind some childish moniker and babbling like an drunken idiot, you need not have regrets.

  • Comment number 33.

    Are you serious?

    For the current Me Me Me generation yesterday is ancient history and doesn't exist.

    In fact I would go as far as saying EVERY generation ignores their past.

    The pictures of me 20-30 years ago remain buried in the loft, never to see the light of day.

    With the vast majority of stuff on web sites like facebook and that twit thing beiing about as interseting as a bowl of old porridge, most of it will be lost in the ether.

    That's the big thing about these social websites, you can pretend you have millions of friends when in fact you are a sad loser with too much time and access to sites like HYS - good god thats me! by, by, I'm off to get a life.




  • Comment number 34.

    Apart from posts on here - I don't store anything on line - there seems to be little accountability for privacy, deletion etc. If it's data I value, I want to have control over it, not somebody else.

    As for what other people say about you - minefield - if you can be bothered to look, that is.

    But change your name - admin, costs - what about people who you would like to find you? Will that be the end of the family tree sites? Or have I got the wrong end of the stick?

  • Comment number 35.

    That if 20 years ago, the government announced it was going to track your movements electronically? There would have been rioting in the streets. But, by using the "trojan horse" of the internet and shopping, games and entertainment. Not only is the tracking aim of government, achieved; but the people were easily persuaded into buying those devices. Thus saving government, the expense of installation. ........ nice trick!

  • Comment number 36.

    Personally NO, but i can see how social networks will have far reaching consequences in the future and to some degree have already. I worked for a large retail chain that felt the need to have a "facebook policy" as with everything else they have a mythical brand to protect a public image that was above reproach and can you imagine if say company x's staff were all pictured drunk and half naked on a web page after a company organised christmas party. Or if a member of Staff that had worked for a company for 10years was upset with the incompetence of the 23yr old graduate degree manager appointed from head office that didn't have a clue what he was doing but he could spout policy more effectively than anyone else.
    Basically it is a two tier problem people do need to be very mind full of the information that they choose to share on the internet, and at the same time there is also the potential for real damage being done to so called big brands by the occasional slip from staff on a social network.
    Or put it this way the head office perpetrated myth that they are a good company to work for that cares about its staff does not marry up with the views expressed across many social networks not naming any companies but I can think of at least 4 clothing retailers. and 2 electrical retailers that are hated by the staff at store level but a job is a job.

  • Comment number 37.

    What matters is not a name as such, but whom this name belongs to. But names that are needed for people to better communicate with each other are only names, they have no meanings as such if to consider them apart from those whom they belong to. They are not a kind of property that can be proposed for sale. I do not think anyone can become a better person after changing his or her name, but anyone shoud have a right to do so because someone's name can be used for evil purposes.

  • Comment number 38.

    We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.

  • Comment number 39.

    Well, I believe in speaking my mind. I do not really care if I offend someone or even those in authority. The point is that we are supposed to live in a democracy and have freedom of speech. This in itself is debatable but I am an incurable idealist.

    I am frequently concerned that civil and public servants feel they have an authoritative position in life. They should remember they are servants of the public, and remember that what might be in their interests might not be in the public interest.

    Changing my name? Not really. In my teens I was embarrassed by a nickname which stuck, a similarity between my name and a celebrity. I often wished I could change this so as to stop the use of the nickname. Now it does not really matter.

  • Comment number 40.

    One of the first things I do when recruiting is to try to find the person on FB. I know I shouldn't judge, but when interests include "getting p*ssed" and their religion is Jedi they are straight off the short list.
    I understand that social norms do need to evolve, but in a very competitive labour market, how your online presence corrodes your professional brand does matter.

  • Comment number 41.

    No I am not ashamed of any posting I have ever posted.By the way Charity begins at home.

  • Comment number 42.

    Whenever, wherever and however, you get a large group of people together there will always be a percentage who behave in socially unacceptable ways or in ways that lack integrity. In a Church, there will always be some 'dodgy' ministers. In the Houses of Parliament there will always some MPS who cheat their expenses!

    So, the same thing is going to happen on the internet. People need to perceive and understand the risks they can face and take sensible steps to protect themselves. We live in the era of ID theft and other abuses of personal information, and information gleaned from social networks is as useful for those purposes as that gleaned from rustling around your dustbins or spying through your windows.

    Sorry folks but that's the way it is and there isn't any way of changing it.

    Oh and as for the "changing names" thing - that will only give rise to a market in 'link the new name to the old ID for fraud purposes' lists being sold amongst the criminally inclined.

  • Comment number 43.

    I'm not worried for myself, but do wonder about my kids.



  • Comment number 44.

    Its a valid warning. the internet already tracks every website you visit, your shopping habits and general buying trends all so that it can traget adverts tailored to your interests when you are surfing, its doesn't take a lot to link all this to your email account details and facebook/myspace/twitter pages and you can get an incredibley accurate picture of someone and the life they lead. Many peoples lives are already online but they just aren't aware of it. The intelligence services can get access to anything they wish (given supposed good cause) Link all this to paper records (NI, banking, mortgages, vehicle information) and we are all an open book without realising it.

  • Comment number 45.

    Are you ashamed of your online past?

    I don't understand why it would effect Google unless they are just expressing an opinion.

    Personally, it is my Yahoo Chat past that would bother me. Although, with Yahoo, I don't really consider it actual reality for some reason: just a place to go to blow off steam in a variety of different ways, like most people do while there. Nothing harmful though, of course.

    If someone wants to change their names, why not? It will make their future descendants upset when doing their genealogy though. I know. I have run into it while doing my own. It is a daunting precess to deal with.

  • Comment number 46.

    Bad Credit Rating?
    Bankrupt?
    Criminal Record?
    ------------------
    Then change your name
    to a secret identity
    such as
    James Bond 007.

  • Comment number 47.

    My concern is that we're going to see a growth in services aimed squarely at employers, ones that churn out social media dossiers on prospective employees.

    In those circumstances the fact that a casual viewer is probably going to forget the subject of a half-naked/drunken/stupid teenager photographed doing what teenagers often do, or venting their opinions on politics,religion etc isn't really sufficient.

    Value judgements could well be made that could have a significant impact on their ability to land a job.

    Social network scoring could become as pervasive as credit scoring - in this case a 24/7 real-time CV where folks are held to impossibly high standards that have no bearing on their ability to actually hold down a particular job.

    Of course those who anonymize themselves thru pseudonyms or outright non-participation would then score a big fat zero and presumably fall into the category of 'having something to hide'.

  • Comment number 48.

    I tend to be ask myself one question before posting something:

    What would happen if my boss or wife read it?

    If the answer is 'serious trouble' I don't post it. I wonder how much of the outrageously racist and offensive comments you get on this blog and other, much much worse ones out there would be written if the poster had to use their real name?

    Thats speaking as an adult... thinking back to my time at school I can cringe thinking about a dozen events or more. I'm not sorry that I haven't seen anyone I was at school with in 15 years or more and live 400 miles away now so I sort of see where Eric Schimdt is coming from. However people can change their names effortlessly now. It only costs £20. It does however cause massive problems with credit checks etc and will cost a fortune getting new driver licences, passports etc. Its not something I'd do simply to cover up some blog posts.

  • Comment number 49.

    You'd have to be an idiot to use rubbish like Facebook, giving your details to them so they can store it and harvest it for all sorts of nefarious reasons.

    A lot of people are going to look really stupid in the future. There might even be legal suits when people find it difficult to get a job as employers are now scouring places like Facebook to get more information about potential employees.


    Maybe there needs to be a mass unregistering from these places so the whole sorry idea can die, and with it the companies who say they are "worth" billions... such BS!


    People really shouldn't give a damn about your musical tastes, family photos, current mood and how many friends you have!


    Time to get over this crap.




    Thank me very much!

  • Comment number 50.

    35. At 2:07pm on 18 Aug 2010, hirundine608 wrote:
    That if 20 years ago, the government announced it was going to track your movements electronically? There would have been rioting in the streets. But, by using the "trojan horse" of the internet and shopping, games and entertainment. Not only is the tracking aim of government, achieved; but the people were easily persuaded into buying those devices. Thus saving government, the expense of installation. ........ nice trick



    or to be more accurate the government can in THEORY track your movements electronically (and simply owning and carrying a mobile phone is all they need to do that as Ian Huntley found out). In reality they don't track you unless you do something to attract attention. Most of us live really boring lives and the 'government' doesn't employ nearly enough people to even monitor 1% of routine behaviour. David Cameron REALLY doesn't care that I bought £30 of petrol and a chocolate bar at the Tesco on the way to work (although I'm sure he appreciates the £20 in tax he gets) and ECHELON will not be telling the CIA I just advance ordered the new Lee Child from Amazon.

  • Comment number 51.

    No - because I am comfortable with the things that I do online.

    On the personal side, I run two websites on my 2 main hobbies - the study of medals and role-playing games. I participate in several forums concerned with those two interests. (They rarely overlap, although a role-playing e-zine has published a fantasy medal I designed for the game in question!)

    Professionally, I run another website to share ideas and resources in e-learning and there will be another one to support the business I am thinking of starting.

    As you can see I'm quite happy to post under my real name. Not that anyone knows that, of course. I might not be 'Megan' at all. But I am :)

  • Comment number 52.

    Ive used/got so many user names Ive forgoten who I was when I started.

  • Comment number 53.

    I have posted various coments to HYS over the years. Strangely, if I Google my own name, the first item which comes up is a comment posted to but not displayed by HYS some years ago. Not so anonymous after all? If HYS didn't display it, then how did it get into the ether with my name attached to it? Clearly as you have to register to submit a comment, HYS must attach the name to the comment before moderation. I'd love to know how the messages then get released to the public domain.

  • Comment number 54.

    40. At 2:22pm on 18 Aug 2010, 8outof3 wrote:

    "One of the first things I do when recruiting is to try to find the person on FB. I know I shouldn't judge, but when interests include "getting p*ssed" and their religion is Jedi they are straight off the short list.
    I understand that social norms do need to evolve, but in a very competitive labour market, how your online presence corrodes your professional brand does matter."

    Shameful behaviour on your part.

    I take it you're a tea totalling religious nutter then.

    I know I certainly wouldn't employ you with that criteria; you'd probably spend most of your days wagging a finger at the other employees and pontificating about how much better you are.

    Also what you are doing is tantamount to employment discrimination.

    Which is illegal.

  • Comment number 55.

    If anyone is stupid enough to use their legal name as their username and act pathetically online, such as trolling or attacking people, then you deserve all the backlash you get.

  • Comment number 56.

    I have never been in the habit of saying anything I don't mean. It's called being honest.

  • Comment number 57.

    In alignment with my previous post (post no.54) regarding poster "8outof3" (post no.40), I bring you...

    Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_9_ECHR


  • Comment number 58.

    There are many examples showing how someone's name can be used by others for their own purposes. So everyone should have a right to change his or her own name in order for it not to be exploited by others. And a good name is likely to be fortuitous to its possessor. Before taking part in a chess tournament, someone can take Kasparov's name and win the tournament as a resulf of that. Can it be a crime? Not at all. I am becoming more and more convinced that changing names is a good thing to do.

  • Comment number 59.

    28. At 1:47pm on 18 Aug 2010, Graham wrote:
    Everything that you say on HYS is kept - it has to be so that they can kick you out for sending too many "...has been removed..." posts. It is automatically linked to your email and after that any IT punter can figure out who you are.

    The BBC/HYS/Socialist Workers Party here on HYS probably probably keep all the posts for the next labour governments' Stazi secret police to mill over. All us non-PC, white, taxpaying right wingers will soon find themselves swinging from a jib whilst the "you should be ashamed" crowd cheer on the death of capitalism.



    Firstly do what I did and register for HYS with a 'disposable' email account (always good for registering with sites you know will spam you silly too)

    Secondly the 'secret police' are the same regardless of who's in power precisely to stop that sort of thing happening. From experience I've found most favour the tories.

    Thirdly the Labour party you so despise did at least sign the human rights act so execution isn't going to happen. Its the tories generally favour hanging and whipping (for fun too!)

    Personally I'd be more worried about an employer reading this sort of hysterically paranoia and questioning your sanity rather than the 'Nu-Labour Stazi' getting you.

  • Comment number 60.

    As I post under my own name, I'm often and erroneously have been accused on this forum as:

    1. non-Muslim
    2. extremist-Muslim
    3. anti-Semitic
    4. pro-Israeli
    4. anti-Israeli
    5. pro-Palestinian
    6. anti-Palestinian
    7. pro-American
    8. anti-American
    9. an illegal immigrant
    10. a propagator of the "same old lies"

    Proof you can't please anyone anytime if you say what's on your mind with your real name.

    Don't believe it? If I changed my username to "John Smith" instead, everything I say would be perceived differently. I'd immediately cease being an "illegal immigrant" for starters (even though I was never an immigrant - illegal or otherwise) and be called either a "bleeding heart liberal", "NuLab supporter" "Tory facist" "Daily Mail reader" "Guardian reader", with absolutely no mention of Islam, Judaism, fundamentalism, anti-Semitism and all the other lovely monikers I've come to know and love.

    The troube is that when you use your real name, half of what you're trying to convey is washed away or misinterpreted by other people's perceptions, or worse, bias.

  • Comment number 61.

    I believe in personal integrity. i have made, and still do, many mistakes. yet, though, i change in this trial-and-error world, i will not deny any part of my past that is true. people worry much too much about what others, and especially the establishment, perceives of them. if we want to live up to our privileged condition of a species made in the image and likeness of God, we should divest ourselves of such ninny concerns. we are not mainly here to make others amenable, or to kow-tow to the powers that be. TO YOUR OWN SELF BE TRUE !

  • Comment number 62.

    Before one can deicide the shame behind one's online-profile, a question arises: what is shame and what are those things of which I should be ashamed of?

    Irrespective of the moral, religous, or socio-philosophical definitions of shame, human beings change when they are exposed to a different social envoirnment. A criminal might change for the better, and a law-abiding person might take law into his hands. Archytype shame, close to guilt, might remain shame in the ages to come; but, somebody might not be ashamed of a lesser shame ten years from now.

    Serach engines, and web-sites including BBC, are enternalising and enforcing ideas already propagated via Mass-media. In this entire process, shame, as it stands, is defined by mass-media on daily basis. Reason being, the spirit of the age is changing rapidly. I am no a Mr. Bush dancing with the Kings of Arabia, and the masses of Africa. For earning my bread and butter, I had to support my employer; however, I think twice before supporting any idea of which I might be ashamed in the future?

    The way out: I shall refrain from psoting an on line profile? "For us there is no action...we wait...we wait..."

  • Comment number 63.

    The simple solution is to not give any sort of personal details on the web including even your first name. I have deleted my Facebook and other "social networking sites". It should say: Government monitoring sites.

    I urge anyone who cares about their privacy to do the same.

  • Comment number 64.

    Occasionaly I have said something of a racist nature I sort of regret because I am not a racist and was just reacting to a specific situation or the black criminals who night and day fill my evening newscast.

    I can easily imagine a day when politcal candidates will be blackmailed and intimidated into actions based on someoneelse's knowledge of their sexual predilictions based on their online porn usage.

  • Comment number 65.

    " 54. At 3:23pm on 18 Aug 2010, Some other person with a comment wrote:
    40. At 2:22pm on 18 Aug 2010, 8outof3 wrote:

    "One of the first things I do when recruiting is to try to find the person on FB. I know I shouldn't judge, but when interests include "getting p*ssed" and their religion is Jedi they are straight off the short list.
    I understand that social norms do need to evolve, but in a very competitive labour market, how your online presence corrodes your professional brand does matter."

    Shameful behaviour on your part.

    I take it you're a tea totalling religious nutter then.

    I know I certainly wouldn't employ you with that criteria; you'd probably spend most of your days wagging a finger at the other employees and pontificating about how much better you are.

    Also what you are doing is tantamount to employment discrimination.

    Which is illegal. "


    Jedi isn't a legal religion and there's a big difference between having a few drinks and getting hammered so it ISN'T discrimination. In fact its very little different from getting a personal reference, only in this case the applicant has submitted their own reference. There's no crime in checking out a PUBLIC profile of someone. Its what PUBLIC means. Anyone can read it.

    What poster #40 is doing is similar to running a credit check or criminal record check on their applicants. He also doesn't state what business he's running but I can think of several where you REALLY don't want the person doing the job to be hungover.

  • Comment number 66.

    What a load of old tosh.There are some right odd people about and I guess as we have every snooping aide under the sun checking up on us to keep us under "control" its only fair to have the odds evened up if it bothers you that much. What worries me is the contributors to HYS who confess to delving into an applicants personal past when applying for a job?Would anyone want to work for such an employer? To me the past is the past and as none of us are perfect mistakes are made on a daily basis,some little ones some big its because we are human.If in the future we are so paranoid that we have to be wary of potential employees or look for advantage by hiding our own past then its surely time for me to commit hari kari!!!!

  • Comment number 67.

    I never use my real name for online posts. Bill Baur of course isn't my real name.

  • Comment number 68.

    I am trying to write a book at the moment set in the mid seventies. It is about a group of teenagers who have just finished their O-Levels. To help me get the period right, I have made notes comparing then (when I was a teenager) to now. The most obvious two changes are mobile phones and the internet.

    The idea that our parents (or even half of our friends) could phone us any time they liked and ask us what we are up to, or that a company had data pinning down our exact location, or that anyone in the world could read our thoughts, find out our addresses, see photos of us and so on ... this would have horrified us!

    We were into freedom, into doing our own thing, getting out there and being liberated. Modern communication would have sounded like a prison sentence! And when "out there" got too much, we could come home, shut the door and it wouldn't follow us.

    Does the modern teenager realise how small their world becomes whenever they login and connect up?

    We were a lot more free back then than they are now.

  • Comment number 69.

    This is coming from a citizen from a nation that incarcerates children as adults. I think the real question should really be about emerging totalitarianism in the USA. They speak of this on the one hand while simultaneously purchase all of the social media sites on the other. What's really going on here? The government already spies on its citizens and tracks them through car, t.v. and cell phone. What would you expect from a government that touts freedom, liberty and apple pie for all?

  • Comment number 70.

    40. At 2:22pm on 18 Aug 2010, 8outof3 wrote:

    "One of the first things I do when recruiting is to try to find the person on FB. I know I shouldn't judge, but when interests include "getting p*ssed" and their religion is Jedi they are straight off the short list."

    ##

    I think many employers do that - it can save a lot of time later finding out you have employed a complete idiot.

    Mind you, better still is to employ school leavers rather than graduates. They may be all over the place, but at least you have the chance to help them mature and grow into someone you would want to employ!

    That was why it used to work so well years ago.

  • Comment number 71.

    Here in the US it's possible to trace someone's home address and almost anything about them. It's frightening. Both the Republicans and the Democrats have complained about stalking and identify theft but neither of them have done a thing to limit the amount of government information that is available online. The US government is doing all it can to make identity theft easier.

  • Comment number 72.

    “That will ensure that people actually think about what they say and do and understand there are consequences sometimes unforeseen”.

    There are many normal people who enjoy a bit of home filming and the odd naked snap of your girl/boyfriend on holiday – you fall out, and then find yourself posted on the internet or the odd night out on the town.

    So what are you saying? We should lead boring lives! Go to work, go home and watch TV, have no contact with the outside world and be boring!

    Maybe you should think of doing something crazy!

    What needs to happen is that people/companies should take anything a “pinch of salt” what they find on the internet as we are all humans.

  • Comment number 73.

    The only people who have anything to worry about are the sorts who I really dont care about anyway......

    I was always told dont ever write, send or show anything on the internet you wouldnt want your Mother to read or see, so I should be safe.

    Unless of course the BBC wants to dish the dirt on me!

  • Comment number 74.

    What on earth is an "on-line past"??? I personally could care less what people think of me, whether here or in my everyday life, if I am not liked, who cares, who IS liked, everyone has something about them that annoys. I believe in what I believe in; that is all religion is an invention of mankind and is not worth the paper it is written on, is a controlling and dangerous thing that causes ALL the conflicts in the world. I believe in total sensual and sexual freedom, freedom to be naked whatever your age whereever you wish, freedom to sell your body in any way that is comfortable to yourself. I abhor censorship and two people I dislike with a passion are the supreme two busy-bodies I have encountered in my life, one now deceased; Mary Whitehouse, but at least she was honest and straight unlike currently, CEOP "boss" Jim Gamble, both outspoken and so up their own rear-end, can't see the reality that is front of them. No I don't give fig what people think of my so called on-line past, I would do it all again with knobs on.

  • Comment number 75.

    Ok. Yeah, they track teenagers on Facebook but they can't seem to find Interpol's and the FBI's long list of criminals and terrorists. Something doesn't add up here.

  • Comment number 76.

    In carnivals of Venice I did see,
    Folk celebrate such anonymity,
    Where once were masks, there's now technology,
    How we do toy with our identity.

    When faceless we believeth we art free,
    To sound out harsh opinions viciously,
    But all we do stays with us deep inside,
    And from ourseleves we cannot hope to hide.

    The mirth we may in taverns have today,
    Be documents and photographs next day,
    That we may wish to purge from memory,
    And further make for all to never see.

    If this be testament of mankind's state,
    What should we fear tomorrow be our fate?

  • Comment number 77.

    We live in an affluent world where people are prepared to use their bodies for graffiti - tattoos and studs, destroy their lungs with nicotine, livers with alcohol and bodies with processed rubbish. Does anyone really believe that these people will be concerned about what is known or published about them in the future?

    Hello Magazine, Big Brother and The Sun are the cultural icons.

    'The medium is the message'..... and I'm afraid the message is not a happy one...

  • Comment number 78.

    Not really. I'm fairly careful about what I post.

    What I am worried about if what other people may post.

    Mr Schmidt is trying, with the assistance of our hysterical, 24 hour, rolling media, to create fear of his competitors - already advertisers are realising the wealth of demographic data that the social networking sites provide is infinitely superior to the patchy data that even the immortal Google cookie can provide, and this threatens the revenue stream for his company.

    That's all it is, but a dry business story about a company CEO trying to boost his product is no match for an hysterical rant about an illusory threat from an intangible future.

  • Comment number 79.

    If you have ever posted comments highly critical of Israel especially of Israel's actions towards the Palestinians, against AIPAC, or the Jews in general whatever the topic or opinion you have cause for concern. You may find your efforts to hide your real identity on the internet to be of little avail because you have become to some people an unjustly so called cyber anti-semite or simply an "enemy" or "hater" of the Jewish state. Those who say they "never forget" never forget nor forgive. I would not count at all on the annonymity some web sites pretend to offer you don't know with whom they are associated or how they divulge information to third parties or who owns them. Comment but be highly wary. There is no such thing as a safe forum on the internet. You may have nothing to be ashamed of and may think you are fair minded in what you post and believe in freedom of speech but others may view even the slightest criticism as a prejudiced attack on them and may attempt to injure you in some way if they can identify you personally. In the ether-world of the net you can not know how far you have reached or who is monitoring content or what their power of retaliation is.

  • Comment number 80.

    69. At 4:00pm on 18 Aug 2010, clamdip lobster claws wrote:
    This is coming from a citizen from a nation that incarcerates children as adults. I think the real question should really be about emerging totalitarianism in the USA


    To be fair if you look at any HYS will any relevance towards the kids who killed James Bulger who'll find plenty of Brits want to EXECUTE kids. Its not just the US that has a problem with totalitarianism. Plenty of Brits seem to want a return to 18th century working conditions and penal systems.... for other people of course, not them.

  • Comment number 81.

    75. At 4:07pm on 18 Aug 2010, clamdip lobster claws wrote:
    Ok. Yeah, they track teenagers on Facebook but they can't seem to find Interpol's and the FBI's long list of criminals and terrorists. Something doesn't add up here.


    Not really. Bin Ladin has more sense than to log in to facebook. One of the rebel leaders in Chechnya was killed by the Russians after they 'agreed' to negotiate a peace deal with him then promptly bombed the hell out of the co-ordinates his phone call was coming from.

    What it shows is that our intelligence services aren't nearly as powerful as 'Spooks' would have you believe and its fairly straight forward to evade them if you're careful.

  • Comment number 82.

    It worries me to think of what websites my I.P. address has graced.

    Having led a sheltered internet life until my university years I ensured setting aside money for internet security, however not even that could protect me from being re-directed to obscene sites, or as me and my friend called it, stumbling on a "porn vortex". Even as something as innocent as looking for 5 a side football kits redirected me towards obscene websites.

    Obviously everybody knows the old delete the internet history trick, and the even more computer literate knowing how to delete temporary internet files, however your I.P. address is your footprint across the Web and therefore if for whatever reason thats ever revealed (most likely in a court of law), then theres no doubt myself as well others will be ashamed.

  • Comment number 83.

    Honestly, I think the government should be more worried about people aligning themselves and congregating into different commando splinter groups like American Freedom Fighters, Berets against Fascism, GI Joe Liberation Troupe. Pissed off Citizens. This is the their biggest threat bar none.

  • Comment number 84.

    It is always very difficult to know one’s mind which is always fluctuating from one object to the other continuously without a rest round the Clock and hence it never reflect the character of person in any way to describe a personality. However, the internet being most readily available to us all the time to know about everything with almost all subjects covered, we might often look at objects or on contents, out of curiosity rather than as a habit to describe one’s way of life to pass one’s idle time. When one is engaged fully in a particular work, such behavior of one is remain hidden to a large extent to stop wondering of the mind from one end to the other end irrespective of who the personality is.

    Therefore we believe that such storing is always wrongful on the part of Service Provider to take advantage of one’s weaknesses to expand one’s Business through initiating such steps. If Google did it inadvertently, the same should be deleted from storing forthwith.


    (Dr.M.M.HAZARIKA, PhD)

  • Comment number 85.

    "33. At 1:59pm on 18 Aug 2010, JohnH wrote:
    by, by, I'm off to get a life."

    ---------------------------

    I think that's a lie! ;)

  • Comment number 86.

    79. At 4:21pm on 18 Aug 2010, ColadadelCid wrote:

    "If you have ever posted comments highly critical of Israel especially of Israel's actions towards the Palestinians, against AIPAC, or the Jews in general whatever the topic or opinion you have cause for concern. You may find your efforts to hide your real identity on the internet to be of little avail because you have become to some people an unjustly so called cyber anti-semite or simply an "enemy" or "hater" of the Jewish state."
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I have done that. I am VERY PROUD to have too. Because of people like me who spoke out on the ill-treatment of the Palestinians and the people of Gaza especially, Israel is now allowing them to eat and have medicine.

    Their policy on torture has changed too.

    It's a step in the right direction.

    Much MORE needs to be done though. These people who take rude and degrading photo shoots with captive old men who are incapable of hurting a fly, just for kicks, is another challenge. We do not need another Abu Ghraib......................EVER again.

  • Comment number 87.

    You can't control what is posted about you online. If someone takes a picture or video of you they can post it to all their social network sites, to youtube or anywhere else they like.

    The only thing you can do is control information and data that no-one other than you should have access to (financials etc).

    The internet is very useful and has helped spread information, can help people learn new things or simply provide some entertainment. The internet has never been and never will be "safe" tho.

  • Comment number 88.

    Just because you use a psuedonym as an oneline identity to protect yourself doesn't mean to say you will be able to evade going off the metaphorical radar. There are numerous ways and means out there to determine your every move. I wouldn't be too surprised if MI5 has not got a file on you already without you even knowing. LOL

  • Comment number 89.

    I am annoyed that old HYS posts from a few years ago, when I naively used my real name, are still visible via a Google search.

    (I have an unusual name)

    Dear BBC - please can you fix this ?

  • Comment number 90.

    I don't have an on-line past, or present, or future. I refuse to enter the frantic chatter-world of Facebook, Myspace etc., nor do I have the time. How does anyone have the time for this as well as having a real life?

  • Comment number 91.

    NO! I am not ashamed in any way if anything I am understated!

  • Comment number 92.

    Changing identity does not necessarily amount to being ashamed of the past. Some viewers can become so familiar with you (or so they think) they get too judgemental so sometimes a change of username lets users have a fresh start.

    Recently I decided to use one of my nicknames as a username I had since schooldays and still known as by some for a website but one viewer claimed (s)he Googled the name and couldn’t find any use of it anywhere on the internet so tried to be clever claiming it had just been made up thinking I was someone with two usernames as (s)he had never come across this username before.

    As a result of this I decided to use another username which wasn’t so unusual as I didn’t want the accusations aimed at me every time I logged onto the website when this user was on.

    Just because there is no trace of a username on the internet doesn’t mean it hasn’t been used as a nickname outside the internet.

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    Well, if you give a baby a loaded machine gun with the safety catch off, what do you expect?

  • Comment number 95.

    I change my name when I'm bored with it,find a more relevant name or need to move on.

    'Ashamed,embarrassed ???

    ..regrets?
    I've had a few,
    but then again,
    too few to mention''.

    [Sid Vicious.]

  • Comment number 96.

    I have been all over the entire Internet, IRC, Usenet and Web for years, almost always as Silverpelican, silverpelicanfeather or some variation thereof. I knew that my privacy was probably non-existent but so is, in large part, all of the "SPs".

    At one time the two, SP/SPF had 58K cites on Groups and about 13K on the Web. OTOH, since Google seems to want to take responsibility for destroying personal privacy, IMO everybody should include them as a defendant in any litigation revolving around "privacy".

  • Comment number 97.

    But the point is that Google should not keep track of what we do in the first instance!

  • Comment number 98.

    I gather some employers already Google people applying for jobs. Get your teenagers off the computer now...



  • Comment number 99.

    I wonder how many of HYS'ardent supporters of euthanasia are likely to want a rethink as they get older and perhaps seek a different identity .

  • Comment number 100.

    59. At 3:33pm on 18 Aug 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:
    28. At 1:47pm on 18 Aug 2010, Graham wrote:
    Everything that you say on HYS is kept - it has to be so that they can kick you out for sending too many "...has been removed..." posts. It is automatically linked to your email and after that any IT punter can figure out who you are.

    The BBC/HYS/Socialist Workers Party here on HYS probably probably keep all the posts for the next labour governments' Stazi secret police to mill over. All us non-PC, white, taxpaying right wingers will soon find themselves swinging from a jib whilst the "you should be ashamed" crowd cheer on the death of capitalism.



    Firstly do what I did and register for HYS with a 'disposable' email account (always good for registering with sites you know will spam you silly too)

    Secondly the 'secret police' are the same regardless of who's in power precisely to stop that sort of thing happening. From experience I've found most favour the tories.

    Thirdly the Labour party you so despise did at least sign the human rights act so execution isn't going to happen. Its the tories generally favour hanging and whipping (for fun too!)

    Personally I'd be more worried about an employer reading this sort of hysterically paranoia and questioning your sanity rather than the 'Nu-Labour Stazi' getting you.

    ------------------------

    Peter I don't think I need to hide my identity by using some "disposable" email and the only reason that I would be worried about employers getting my info would be the increase in offers for my services. I should really change my name to Tony and make some more millions.

 

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