Ctrl+Alt+Delete: Some things can’t be removed with the push of a button

Joel Hopkins, Columnist

Are potential employers not calling back because of the inappropriate memes plastered on your Facebook wall?

Did your friends find the YouTube page you made when you were twelve?

Have the embarrassing MySpace blogs from your youth come back to haunt you?

Well if so, good news! According to some online tech blogs, you can now obliterate all trace of yourself from the Internet with the click of a button! But the bad news is: you actually can’t.

Tech sites all over the web are going nuts for “Deseat.me,” a service provided by Swedish developers that claims to “clean up your existence” on the web. These sites would have you believe that you can pull the plug and go off the grid in a matter of seconds.

The headlines for online articles about Deseat.me include phrases like: “You can completely delete yourself from the Internet, here’s how,” or, “Delete yourself from the internet by pressing this button.” It sounds so instantaneous and permanent.

Here’s what the service actually does according to Deseat.me’s webpage, “We give you a list of all the accounts and services you have ever created an account for. We match them with direct links to their delete page, and instructions on how to delete your account for good.”

On Deseat.me, users sign into their Gmail account and give the service permission to access the account’s information.

Once connected, Deseat.me produces a list, which includes all of the accounts attached to the Gmail account. Users are then guided to the deletion of these accounts.

The reality of Deseat.me is far from “deleting yourself from the internet” with the click of a button, but it might be a start for people who are looking to cover some of their embarrassing cyber-tracks.

The unfortunate truth is, when your parents or teachers told you to be cautious about what you post online, because it never really goes away, they were right.

If you had something truly shameful on the accounts you are looking to destroy, chances are it has already been immortalized in a screenshot, or backed up in a cloud somewhere.

Because this is the harsh reality, you need to be mindful about what you are posting. Here is some advice that cannot be stressed enough; if the content is questionable, don’t post it in the first place. This is your only true defense.

This idea is hard to drill into the minds of some young people who don’t worry about the future like adults do. They haven’t considered potential employers who might scour their social media years after they leave their angsty tweets.

Surprisingly, however, many adults seem to ignore this advice as well. During this past election season it was more evident than ever that some conduct themselves horrendously online. People have even lost their jobs over content they posted to their own social media pages.

These consequences could be avoided for certain users if they gave more weight to what they post, and asked themselves if they would say such things in person, as well as online.

When you embarrass yourself in person, the best-case scenario is only a few people will notice, and everyone will forget about it eventually.

When you speak to others in person, you get an immediate reaction. If you say the wrong thing, you will know it right away.

This is not the case on social media. It is much easier for people to say certain things online, where there are no immediate physical reactions from anyone. A bad reaction on Twitter won’t be taken as seriously as a bad reaction in person, and this gives awful people a platform to be awful, or for regular people to say things that they wouldn’t normally say.

If a user should find himself embarrassed by his cyber-past, sure, he can sign up for Deseat.me, and pray that no-one has already taken screenshots, but he will probably wish he had just been proactive, and not posted them in the first place.

The next time you want to post something questionable, ask yourself if you would say the same thing out loud in a room full of people you don’t know. If the answer is no, you can still post it, just consider the consequences.

As for “deleting yourself from the Internet,” you can’t really do it, so don’t give yourself a reason to need to.

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