Google CEO, Eric Schmidt has warned that today’s teenagers are the first generation to grow up with an online permanent record of all their digressions.
Speaking at the Telegraph’s Hay Festival, Schmidt stated that teenagers in the digital age can never escape any mistakes they’ve made due to how much of their lives are stored on the internet.
“We have never had generation with a full photographic, digital record of what they did”, said Schmidt. “We have a point at which we [Google] forget information we know about you because it is the right thing to do.”
Schmidt explained that it is Google’s policy to many any information on what any individual has searched for completely anonymous after a year.
However, he also made it clear that he feels the amount of personal information shared online is becoming ridiculous. He cited parents that post ultrasounds of their unborn babies on social media sites, saying it was taking oversharing to “overwhelmingly excessive levels.”
“There are situations in life that it’s better that they don’t exist. Especially if there is stuff you did when you were a teenager. Teenagers are now in an adult world online.”
Previously, anyone who made mistakes in their teenage years had the potential to get away from those actions.
“Society has always had ways of dealing with errant teenagers”, Schmidt explained. “They grow up out of it and become fine, upstanding leaders.”
However, with the current generation of young people, they may never be able to escape past mistakes because they are captured online and could potentially be dredged up by future employers, governments or other life influencing sources.
In recent months, Google has been urged to censor offensive videos and messages on the internet, particularly regarding extremist content. Schmidt said Google has no plans to do so, instead retaining its current censorship rule that bans content according to the legal requirements of each country.
“It is a slippery slope. Where do we stop?”