The Web Never Forgets….Ever

    April 15, 2008

If you watched the news over the weekend, you probably couldn’t escape news of eight teenagers accused of viciously beating a 16-year-old girl, with the intention of posting a video on YouTube.

What was planned as a cyber-bullying stunt to shame their victim on YouTube has turned into an online reputation management scar that will live with the eight defendants for the rest of their lives.

Take a look at these names:

…Cara Murphy, 16; Britney Mayes, 17; Kayla Hassell, 15; Zachary Ashley, 17; Brittini Hardcastle, 17; Mercades Nichols, 17; April Cooper, 14; and Stephen Schumaker, 18.

Conduct a search for any of these names and you’ll find many news articles and blog posts–all telling the story of how each are facing kidnapping and battery charges.

Now, fast forward 10 years. Whether these teens are convicted or not, it’s likely that a Google search for each name will cast a bright light on this dark episode in their lives. An episode each would rather forget.

But, the web never forgets….ever!

Sure, they might be able to build some positive content–a blog, social networking profile, etc–and try to suppress any mention of the incident, but it’s likely a future employer, potential mate, bank, or investor, will one day ask the dreaded question:

“Tell me about the 2008 incident where you were accused of kidnapping and battery?”

I remember being a teenager. Life is fun, pranks are played, and your “future” self is a million years away. Yet, whether via parents, teachers, or blog posts on this site, I hope that today’s teens realize that they live in a Radically Transparent world. A world where today’s transgressions are bookmarked and held against them for the rest of their lives.

Maybe a court won’t punish them for their actions, but that doesn’t stop them from punishing themselves, by scarring their future reputation.