Considerations abound regarding search engine effects on individuals entire lives
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 03/04/2013 -- It turns out that search engines have long memories. Kids who tweeted racist remarks about Obama on Election Day, college students who videotaped their gay roommates that lead to a young man's suicide, and the catfishing of Manti Te'o all stand as examples.
Years from now, it may be possible, or even likely, that when a perpetrators' name is googled, these will be what surfaces first on under their name. An employer, a girlfriend or boyfriend, or a neighbor will found out all about what that person once did, no matter what the context, it will be hard to escape.
While some will see this as a good thing, holding individuals accountable for their actions, it cannot be universally said to be a positive.
The broader implications can be detrimental to those with a single unfortunate slip-up or a cataclysmal misjudgment of how to handle a particular situation. Should search engines more aggressively expire results associate with those who are not public figures? Must an individual be branded for the rest of their lives for a single misunderstanding, mistype, or complete lack of judgment in a temporary sense? Or will services such as Reputation.com find an increased B2C business where one can find an obscure fact about a transgression in the teen years that follows an individual throughout his/her life?
What is clearly the most interesting question comes back to a joke that Google Chairman Eric Schmidt made three years ago. Eric stated that each kid would get a chance to change his/her name upon reaching adulthood to have a fresh start on the internet. While clearly tongue-in-cheek, the likelihood of that necessity for some is undeniable at this point. The internet may very well cause a need for a 'redo' button for a great many individuals who make stupid and almost necessary missteps in life.
In business ethics classes, there is often talk of the “front page test.” The concept is meant to help individual consider their behavior, and whether they would wish to see it on the front page of Google. The notion may seem simplistic, but it may also be a necessary exercise for those who are about to do... just about anything.
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