California Online Eraser Law: Will it work to help curb cyberbullying?

TEMPE, AZ - Since social media websites such as MySpace, Facebook and LiveJournal launched, parents have had the additional task of not only teaching their children about what makes appropriate internet posts, but working to remove those potentially embarrassing and regrettable ones.

Parent Jennifer Haynes created her own rules in order to protect her daughter.

"She doesn't posts pictures of herself, she posts pictures of sayings or cute outfits and I do monitor it," she said.

While Clark Rentas believes abstinence is the best monitor, he doesn't allow his child to have a Facebook or Twitter account.

"That pretty much takes care of it," said Rentas.

California, in an effort to help minors remove those embarrassing posts, adopted the "Online Eraser Law" Tuesday.

The new law would require social media sites to allow minors to remove their own postings, while also informing minors of how to remove postings.

The key is postings can only be removed by the owner who posted them.

But local internet experts say "erasing" those posts is a fairy tale and the new law is only misleading to parents and kids.

"The problem is, if it goes viral, if other people pick it up and copy it, it doesn't matter what law is on the book, there's no way to put the toothpaste back in the tube," said Ken Colburn with Data Doctors in Tempe.

Colburn says there is no way to erase the trail once yours or your child's embarrassing post is lifted from the site and spread.

Colburn advances the conversation by posing the thought that California's law may create more havoc than intended. He fears it will add to the internet's privacy invasion.

"Right now websites are not mandated to know how old you are -- if this goes into effect they're going to have to ask you, they'll have to know how old you are," said Colburn.

Colburn also told ABC15 there are already ways to scrub your account from websites.

The website is called "Delete Your Account." Once you click on the site you'll find dozens of sites where you can easily delete your account from various social media sites and allegedly wash away postings.

Colburn points out that just like the "Online Eraser" law, it won't erase the trail of postings that were already copied and reposted onto various websites.

"If you think the internet is in pencil or crayon and you can wipe it off you're wrong. Everything you put on the internet is in Sharpie; just assume it's a permanent record and you should teach your kids that," said Colburn.

In the end, it comes down to parents teaching their kids what to share and what not to share.

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