Young people who made public too much of their personal information on social networks could be forced, in future, to change their identities, warns Google CEO, Eric Schmidt.
To escape their virtually frivolous past, many users of sites such as Facebook will get to change their name because of the potential future employers who will look through their past over the internet.
“I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time,’ he told the Wall Street Journal.
“I mean we really have to think about these things as a society.”
An estimated 600million people have personal online profiles, many of which are accessible to total strangers.
But his comments soon drew accusations of hypocrisy. Chris Williams, of the online tech news website The Register said: “Recording everything and making it knowable by everyone all the time is Google’s stated mission.
“It is profiting handsomely from the fact that society doesn’t understand the consequences.”
Barack Obama – himself a keen social network user – warned young people “to be careful about what you post on Facebook” – in case future employers got hold of it.
“In the YouTube age whatever you do, it will be pulled up again later somewhere in your life,” he warned.
Eric Schmidt’s comments were welcomed by internet experts.
“Mr Schmidt is completely right on how much information we are giving away online,” Dylan Sharpe from the privacy website Big Brother Watch told the Independent.
“Right now there are millions of young kids and teenagers who, when they apply for jobs in ten years time, will find that there is so much embarrassing stuff about them online that they cannot take down.”
“Undoubtedly we need to educate children, and many adults, for that matter, on the value of privacy.
“But with social networking growing in scope and popularity, the real question is – can we put Pandora back in her box?”
But Mr Sharpe added that it was “a little ironic” for Mr Schmidt to claim he is concerned about privacy given that his company has made billions storing data on its customers’ internet use so that it can target them with personalized adverts.
“Google is a company that specializes in knowing where you are, what you are doing and who you are talking to,” said Mr Sharpe, whose organization has campaigned against Google Street View.
“That’s a scary prospect.”
image source: thewashingtonnote.com