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Erasing your teenage digital identity?

Teens use the Internet.

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: The head of Google made a rather shocking recommendation recently. He said that young people should be able to change their names to erase the embarrassment of their teenage online indiscretions. Well, many a college grad would probably make that move now that they're job hunting.

But as Janet Babin reports, in a digital society there are no do-overs.


JANET BABIN: It took me awhile to write this story. First, I had to review my online persona. All clear. But if there were something compromising out there -- Who wouldn't want to erase the indiscretion of youth? Maybe Google's CEO Eric Schmidt is right: We should all get new names when we get our first real job.

Marc Rotenberg at the Electronic Privacy Information Center says that's an interesting position for Schmidt, since it's Google that stands to gain from our lost privacy.

Marc Rotenberg: His solution -- that people should have to change their names because his company is collecting and distributing too much personal information -- seems particularly unfair.

Schmidt's suggestion probably wouldn't work anyway.

Software developer Matt Pizzimenti created an online tool to manage Facebook's privacy settings.

Matt Pizzimenti: It's kind of a non-solution, right? I'm sure you're new name would be just as easily linked to your old name, and your friends still know who you are.

And so do your enemies. In a digital society, we may not be able to forget, but Pizzimenti suggests we could forgive.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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