Reformed Criminals Haunted By Digital Versions Of Their Past Selves
from the scrubbing-the-past dept
There's been a lot of talk this past week about the damage that can be done to an individual's reputation through online message boards. The discussion centered around a certain website for law students that many claim is a hotbed of defamatory statements that can hurt students' employment prospects. Still, it's not clear that the site is really a problem, or that employers are really taking what's said on the site into account when making hiring decisions. But there's no question that many employers do take steps to find out about prospective employees, whether it's through Google or other databases of criminal activity. As we've mentioned in the past, Google has become a digital permanent record, preventing people from leaving behind embarrassing moments from their past. People with criminal records face their own set of challenges. Often these records make it hard for them to get jobs; even if they get their convictions officially expunged or reduced, it can be very difficult to get those keeping the databases to make the changes. And if the changes aren't made, then it's meaningless to talk about what the official record is. It doesn't help that the leading company in charge of such a database already has a poor track record when it comes to keeping its data accurate. Even if it's difficult, at least there is a protocol for getting these things fixed. If you had a night of drunken debauchery that got written about on people's online diaries, there's no official channels to go through. In either case, whether it's an embarrassing incident on Google or an old felony, the best thing is to establish a more recent positive track record, and hope that that's what gets noticed.