Side Effects of Social Media

I already posted about how a child obtains a digital footprint from his or her parent's postings.  But I want to expand on that theme.  What happens when an otherwise regular person gets their 15 minutes of fame on the Internet?

For the very young, there is a possibility of little to no repercussions.  For example, there is a famous YouTube video called "Charlie Bit My Finger", wherein a toddler boy named Charlie ends up biting his older brother's finger.  It's cute, and it has over half a billion views.  But the video is several years old, the boys are much older, and I assume that they can walk down the street without random people shouting out to them.

But then there are all the cases where a person screws up, gets their name plastered over the Internet, and has to live with the infamy basically forever.  The woman who drove her car on the sidewalk to avoid stopping for a school bus?  Her name is Sheena Hardin, and I wonder how comfortable she is living in Cleveland now.  The football players who raped the girl in Ohio?  They will need to change their names if they want to get a job, because let's face it - who'd knowingly hire rapists?  And there is no way an employer wouldn't know, because even though both boys are juveniles, a quick Internet search for their names will bring up the past for every employer who looks.

I am all for spreading information and knowledge through the web, as well as keeping informed as to the events going on around me.  But what happens to people who screw up but can never get a second chance because they will always be remembered?  How do we, as a society, handle this situation?

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