Will Kids Change Their Names As They Become Adults To Hide From Their Google Permanent Record?

from the modern-problems dept

Nearly five years ago, we wondered what would happen when the generation that grew up with the internet and social media started running for office. The idea was that when you're kids, you often do silly things that you regret later in life. In the past, those things fade away as memories. However, these days, many of them are now recorded for posterity and easily findable on a search engine. We've wondered if this will lead more people to brush off youthful indiscretions, but there's another possibility as well. Perhaps it will become more standard for kids to change their names as they reach adulthood. That, at least, is the suggestion made by Eric Schmidt in discussing how society hasn't yet come to grips with a world in which so much data is recorded and available. Of course, it's a pretty simple database mapping to link one to the other, so I do wonder whether or not that really makes a difference for other than the most basic of searches.

Still, I often find these discussions by adults to be a bit condescending towards kids. Yes, kids do all sorts of silly things, some of which they may regret later, it's not as if everything they do is regrettable. On top of that, I tend to believe kids are a lot smarter than many adults make them out to be. While there may be many things that make adults cringe, I would bet a lot more kids understand what they should avoid doing online than adults give them credit for.


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  1.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 12:23pm

    Meaningless....

    "Of course, it's a pretty simple database mapping to link one to the other, so I do wonder whether or not that really makes a difference for other than the most basic of searches."

    It doesn't and it won't. If there is one thing the common everyday person can and should learn about the cumulative effect of the internet nuclear bomb pirate raporist ninja, it's that you cannot hide any longer. Hypocrisy has never been laid bare before its perpetrators as it is commonly done today.

    I, for one, welcome this. We've all done stupid things when we were younger, and even sometimes as adults. The key differentiator of the future won't be our past actions, but our humble ability to both own up to them and demonstratively learn from them....

     

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  2.  
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    Ed Woychowsky, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 12:24pm

    The Internet is like magic

    Real names have power over the owner here.

     

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  3.  
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    David, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 12:24pm

    I'm not sure this wasn't taken out of context.
    Although this idea doesn't seem mature, this sort of thinking will become more relevant.

     

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  4.  
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    scarr (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 12:25pm

    Flip side

    While we're in a transitional period, keep in mind in 10-20 years, the people running and hiring internet kids will mostly be people who grew up with the internet themselves. They will understand the situation, and will have an online history of their own to relate to.

    The people making a big deal about this now are people who come from a different culture with different expectations. Time will take care of their concerns.

     

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  5.  
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    Dean Landolt, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 12:32pm

    the brilliance of sexting

    "While there may be many things that make adults cringe, I would bet a lot more kids understand what they should avoid doing online than adults give them credit for."

    My gut reaction was to think of 'sexting' and how embarrassing that could be in time, but then it occurred to me -- perhaps kids already have it figured out: the child porn boogie man makes these images virtually untouchable.

    Now that I think about it, perhaps the best way to avoid a permanent google record is for all of your youthful indiscretions to involve nudity.

     

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  6.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 12:34pm

    Re: the brilliance of sexting

    "Now that I think about it, perhaps the best way to avoid a permanent google record is for all of your youthful indiscretions to involve nudity."

    Perhaps, but it definitely only works if you're a kid. As an adult, it's nothing but trouble.

    Brett Favre and his cocks 'n Crocs pics are a prime example....

     

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  7.  
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    Bas Grasmayer, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 12:40pm

    Just pick a really average name. Those are the most difficult to Google.

     

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    Ryan Jones, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 12:47pm

    I've always wanted to start a website that monitored twitter and facebook statuses for mentions of using drugs, and recorded those. That way, you'd have a searchable database of future politicians and their drug use for when they run for office.

     

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  9.  
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    slacker525600 (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 12:59pm

    I pretty sure this is just Eric Schmidt pushing his agenda

    most of his recent public comments have been along the lines of, "Everybody should be ready for the death of anonymity on the internet."
    Im main concern is if this is a bellweather that something is being planned for a push through congress. Otherwise tech will allow people to remain anon.
    I think his point is that society will let anything people do as youths slide. his comment is that upon reaching adulthood people will be able to change their name in order to virtually expunge their records.
    I highly doubt this will become a real practice however, because people will want to carry over positive aspects of their childhood and not carry negatives.
    I also was just reading http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/magazine/22Adulthood-t.html and am interested what age would make the most sense for this option. as the article goes on a rant about adulthood and what that means, 16 to drive, 18 to vote/drafted, 21 to drink, 25 to rent a car... where does your record no longer have the right to be cleared to save you from yourself, how old is old enough to know better.
    And, I completely agree that people growing up with the tech will know better than the older generations how to handle this. And I personally believe that acceptance of minor transgressions and honest approaches will be the methodology.

     

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  10.  
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    Jesse, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 1:01pm

    I think people need to be allowed to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. The question is do you learn from them?

    I wouldn't take back any of the foolish things I've done, for it's made me who I am today.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Average Names

    "Just pick a really average name. Those are the most difficult to Google."
    John Jackson and Jack Johnson come to mind...

    Maybe a celebrity name would be better. All of your result would be subsumed by the person who is actually of note.

     

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    Yogi, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 1:17pm

    I don't get it

    What's the big deal here?

    For me it would make more sense not to work for an employer that is so uptight and ignorant that he takes my youthful indiscretions seriously, instead of just seeing what a wonderful, talented human being he has right before his eyes.

    This is a litmus test for employers, not for employees.

     

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    Matt (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 1:34pm

    From what I've heard it can be a ton of work to change your name outside of getting married and frankly the kids that would follow through on that much work probably don't have that much to hide (either by not doing stupid stuff or covering their tracks early on).

    I guess the bigger question is rather than trying to shut down his mistress's blog why didn't Eric change his own name to get away from what he didn't want people to know about him? (not that it would have worked anyway)

     

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    Matt P (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 1:37pm

    By "adults" I think you mean the particular strain of cultural throwbacks that think corporate office culture is the exemplar of how society should work, or think that being a pure WASP in an idealized nuclear family (in image at least) is the perfect politician.

    I like the idea of this being the first generation that won't have that as an option. I'm all for moral decrepitude when the morals are stupid.

     

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    chris (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: Average Names

    Maybe a celebrity name would be better. All of your result would be subsumed by the person who is actually of note.

    or a combination of both, which is my case. i am fortunate enough to have a really common name which is identical to people who are somewhat famous, like an athlete or writer. i think that's the best way to stay under the radar.

    i combine this with the personal equivalent of a shell corporation: a dedicated email alias and telephone number for the purposes of job seeking, that when combined with a boring criminal record have gotten me through every back ground check thus far.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 1:53pm

    Re: I don't get it

    Let me take a wild guess here, you're under the age of 25 right?

     

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    chris (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Meaningless....

    The key differentiator of the future won't be our past actions, but our humble ability to both own up to them and demonstratively learn from them....

    i think this is already in play. when the military did my background check for my security clearance, they wanted me to list past indiscretions. the goal wasn't to find a person with no past indiscretions, but to find a person who doesn't lie about having past indiscretions.

     

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  18.  
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    interval (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 2:08pm

    Re:

    Its a ton of work for you when you do get married. Ask my wife. The state (California in this case) got crazy worked up over some paperwork she had to do over and over again because the damn state is (has gotten (9/11?)) more paranoid than I can remember. Which I found odd at the time as people are always getting married, right? I mean, this is something that city halls across the state must contend with every day, all the time. I voiced this to the clerks who were making us re-do this nonsense and their usual response was to ignore me or at best shrug. Bureaucracies are simply the worst creatures of all of man's creations.

     

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  19.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 2:23pm

    Trend is that bad reputations are valued.

    As usual, you people are living in the past. Societal standards are being flipped so that War Is Peace, Ignorance Is Strength, and Freedom Is Slavery. Nowadays drug use and promiscuity, and worse, are de rigueur; in the future, anyone *lacking* such will be the ones shunned.

     

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  20.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Trend is that bad reputations are valued.

    "Societal standards are being flipped so that War Is Peace, Ignorance Is Strength, and Freedom Is Slavery. Nowadays drug use and promiscuity, and worse, are de rigueur"

    Sweet! Bust out a beer and a couple of lines on some hot hookers funbags, i'mma get this party started!

     

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  21.  
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    Jeremy7600 (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Re: I don't get it

    I'm over 25, and I agree with Yogi. Are you over 50?

     

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  22.  
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    Bruce Ediger (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 3:50pm

    Crazy Usenet Stuff

    I think the article referred to is a few years too late.

    Doesn't anybody remember Usenet? Lots of people used to post all kinds of crazy confessional stuff to Usenet. And rumor had it that the NSA and at least one private company archived it all.

    And the heyday of usenet was about 1985 - 1995. We should have heard about someone, some politician either getting in trouble because of Usenet activity, or voting a particular way for fear of having his/her past as a "furry" on usenet revealed,

     

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  23.  
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    Andrew (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 4:04pm

    There's some interesting comment on this from danah boyd that takes a similar position to that here and on ReadWriteWeb.


    “[Schmidt] predicts, apparently seriously, that every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends’ social media sites.”

    This is ludicrous on many accounts. First, it completely contradicts historical legal trajectories where name changes have become increasingly more difficult. Second, it fails to account for the tensions between positive and negative reputation. Third, it would be so exceedingly ineffective as to be just outright absurd.

     

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  24.  
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    Hippy Hop, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 6:34pm

    There is no need to change for names. As adults in the future they are more responsible then and know the consequences they must face and accept it. This will teach the next generation on how to be responsible even as kids. Oh yes, we do silly things but that comes with responsibility, face the consequences of your actions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 7:24pm

    My take

    I don't get this. Schmidt says that people should change their names to "disown hijinks on social media sites."

    So let's look in detail at his suggestion. First off, a concern is a person running for office, but this isn't the only application. Employers are increasingly using Google to search for applicant's information. So let's look at this from a Newspaper researcher's point of view.

    Problem #1: Credit reports list your NAME as it appears on the accounts and I imagine this also includes account name changes. A quick glance on a credit report would show previous names for any account you've had.

    Problem #2: Name Changes are a matter of Public Record. It's a court document. If you've had a name change, I believe you would have a court document associated to your name.

    Problem #3: Lacks context. Just because someone was at the comedy club and you heard a week's worth of jokes about furries and posted it online doesn't mean that they really like furries.

    Problem #4: A company's HR department exists to be a nazi and protect the interest of the company. So if you're on a social media site and you continually solicit Mike about pizza places, or what type of draino "will cure the problem" you may cost more to have health insurance which could ultimately be an HR problem.

    Problem #5: If Dr. Schmidt's engineers were smart, he'd have a solution which may include an opt-in for finding people's names in search results. The Census bureau has a table of names that could be used to key off of. But if Google implemented such a thing, what's to say other search engine companies would be required to follow suit? Classifying people's names as PII would have to have a legal requirement behind it.

    Problem #6: Those damned Anonymous Commenters. Anonymous commenters keep clogging the tubes and make people like Mike have to use http://www.gravatar.com to place "unique" hash codes. Gravatar is scary because of it's ability to make a unique identifier across many platforms.

    Problem #7: Is he he's saying that it's okay to lie to your employer by falsely answering "What other names have you gone by"? Isn't that inherently deceitful and evil?

    So what's going on at Google to walk Dr. Schmidt out on a stage and talk about identity? Well, perhaps Google is working on some sort of federated identity project for the Government to keep us safe from the internet's boogie men.

    Free (as in beer) speech on the internet is not a good determinant of anything other than what held the attention of the author at that given point of time.

    Remember, Google is a company whose goal is to learn everything it can about you for "relevancy of advertising". They watch what sites you go to, what articles you read and reply to, what videos and movies you watch, they even drive cars by your home and take pictures. Each may be okay in it's own rite, but collectively, it can be pretty scary and massive data-set. Google may not be evil, but it sure seems to tip-toe the line.

    To offer a suggestion such as "Hey, Give Up and Change Your Name" seems to me more like a cop-out answer to solving technology's problems. If Google can't plan for these types of issues, I also have a cop-out answer for them- Google should fire everyone and start over too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    anaon, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 8:02pm

    shoot i heard the news and thought they were onto me. went home and deleted all my porn ive accumulated over the years. sold my information to the church so they can persecute me!

     

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  27.  
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    tezza, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 8:21pm

    Re: Re: I don't get it

    yeah i think yogi's got it right, too

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 8:38pm

    I don't get this. Schmidt says that people should change their names to "disown hijinks on social media sites."

    So let's look in detail at his suggestion. First off, a concern is a person running for office, but this isn't the only application. Employers are increasingly using Google to search for applicant's information. So let's look at this from a Newspaper researcher's point of view.

    Problem #1: Credit reports list your NAME as it appears on the accounts and I imagine this also includes account name changes. A quick glance on a credit report would show previous names for any account you've had.

    Problem #2: Name Changes are a matter of Public Record. It's a court document. If you've had a name change, I believe you would have a court document associated to your name.

    Problem #3: Lacks context. Just because someone was at the comedy club and you heard a week's worth of jokes about furries and posted it online doesn't mean that they really like furries.

    Problem #4: A company's HR department exists to be a nazi and protect the interest of the company. So if you're on a social media site and you continually solicit Mike about pizza places, or what type of draino "will cure the problem" you may cost more to have health insurance which could ultimately be an HR problem.

    Problem #5: If Dr. Schmidt's engineers were smart, he'd have a solution which may include an opt-in for finding people's names in search results. The Census bureau has a table of names that could be used to key off of. But if Google implemented such a thing, what's to say other search engine companies would be required to follow suit? Classifying people's names as PII would have to have a legal requirement behind it.

    Problem #6: Those damned Anonymous Commenters. Anonymous commenters keep clogging the tubes and make people like Mike have to use http://www.gravatar.com to place "unique" hash codes. Gravatar is scary because of it's ability to make a unique identifier across many platforms.

    Problem #7: Is he he's saying that it's okay to lie to your employer by falsely answering "What other names have you gone by"? Isn't that inherently deceitful and evil?

    So what's going on at Google to walk Dr. Schmidt out on a stage and talk about identity? Well, perhaps Google is working on some sort of federated identity project for the Government to keep us safe from the internet's boogie men.

    Free (as in beer) speech on the internet is not a good determinant of anything other than what held the attention of the author at that given point of time.

    Remember, Google is a company whose goal is to learn everything it can about you for "relevancy of advertising". They watch what sites you go to, what articles you read and reply to, what videos and movies you watch, they even drive cars by your home and take pictures. Each may be okay in it's own rite, but collectively, it can be pretty scary and massive data-set. Google may not be evil, but it sure seems to tip-toe the line.

    To offer a suggestion such as "Hey, Give Up and Change Your Name" seems to me more like a cop-out answer to solving technology's problems. If Google can't plan for these types of issues, I also have a cop-out answer for them- Google should fire everyone and start over too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    Esahc (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 8:49pm

    I have never used my real name in association with any web service, with the exception of job sites. As far as the internet is concerned I have a clean record.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 9:03pm

    Here in the UK we had a labour MP who lost his job from old tweets in his later teens - calling old people "coffin dodgers".

    Granted these were only a few years old, and this article is about distant future adults regretting young internet actions - but I think the internet will always provide headlines for the media on politicians. Plenty of things to hound them for, regardless if they have learned and changed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    Yogi, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 11:26pm

    Re: Re: I don't get it

    I wish...

    I'm way over 25, however I am a freelancer so perhaps that makes a difference - I don't have to take no BS from anybody. But that is a choice everybody has, isn't it?

     

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  32.  
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    Matt (profile), Aug 19th, 2010 @ 4:56am

    Re: Re:

    I guess that doesn't really surprise me (especially in California). All my wife had to do was fill a single box on the marriage license (aside from updating her name on bank accounts).

    As for the government workers, it doesn't surprise me they didn't show any interest in fixing it as it means job security. Even further off topic why does the government need to be involved in marriage at all?

     

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  33.  
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    Yo, Aug 19th, 2010 @ 9:54am

    Re:

    Ok Chase

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    Ven (profile), Aug 27th, 2010 @ 9:28am

    Teens

    Not directly related to the topic of changing names, but I agree that it's really condescending to kids. The U.S. seems to have a schizophrenic attitude toward them.

    We seem to expect their maturity: giving them rights in divorce cases, trying them as adults in some cases, yet their rights are eroded daily by overzealous officials trying to "protect" them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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