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If you’re ashamed of what you’ve done, change your name

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Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 2:06 pm

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If you’re ashamed of what you’ve done, change your name

At a certain point, fabulously successful people can grow fabulously out of touch with the world that the rest of us live in. Think of the late Michael Jackson. Think the hedge fund manager who was surprised that people were offended by his $3 million birthday party.

And now, think Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Schmidt noted that most people don’t understand how the concept of privacy is under siege from social media.

“I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time,” Schmidt said.

Too true. Few would dispute that. But what should one do about it?

“He predicts, apparently seriously,” added reporter Holman Jenkins, “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.”

The sound you hear is laughter echoing in the blogosphere.

TechCrunch: “Scary and downright pointless:”

“…in an age where search will be much more powerful than it is now, a simple name change probably won’t present much of a hurdle to anyone actively looking to dive into your online past.”

CNET: “Schmidt raises a wonderful opportunity for all sentient beings to come at least one step closer to the person they wish they were. So what strategy should one choose when becoming someone entirely new?”

Huffington Post asks: “Ludicrous or absurd?”

Reader response: I’ll keep my name. Google should change its name to Giggle.

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This post was written by:

Margot Williams

- who has written 49 posts on Inside Google.

Margot Williams has more than two decades of experience in roles as investigative researcher, research editor, database editor, technology trainer and library director at The New York Times, The Washington Post, Gannett newspapers and Time Warner. She was lead researcher on two Pulitzer Prize-winning teams at The Washington Post for reporting on terrorism in 2002 and for an investigation of the use of deadly force by the District of Columbia police in 1999. Margot is the co-author of “Great Scouts! CyberGuides for Subject Searching on the Web” (Cyberage Books, 1999) and contributed to the “Networkings” column in The Washington Post for five years.

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5 Responses to “If you’re ashamed of what you’ve done, change your name”

  1. Sonia Says:

    Good Observation. I guess is up to each country to revise or not their laws and make modifications if necessary. In the other if a change of name is done or recorded on a data base system it can always be track back using the old name field as reference to execute the search.

  2. Matt Says:

    Mr. Schmidt’s statement is despicable, outrageous. With power comes responsibilities. They have the responsibility to protect their users. I will never use Google ever again! I will install Adblock right now too. Great site by the way.

  3. Michael Safyan Says:

    This article takes Eric Schmidt’s observations out-of-context; he was in no way suggesting that this should be the case, but rather that many websites (e.g. Facebook) are terrible with privacy and that it is important to keep users informed and in control of what data they are sharing lest we go down that unfortunate path.

  4. Rob Says:

    One of the early lessons learned in the professional world that I’ve occupied since the early 1970s is to never write anything that you would not want to see thrown back at you in the future, sometimes in the very distant future. Simply stated, be very careful about what you write. This digital world is really no different with regard to putting written thought out in a public space. The lesson of restraint was not taught in schools I attended, and I suspect it isn’t taught in today’s classes either. Too bad, it’s a useful lesson.

  5. Richard Soper Says:

    But the thing is, if you dont want pictures of yourself partying or doing something illegal seen by potential employers YOU SHOULDNT PUT THEM ON THE INTERNET. its that simple.

    and if your friend puts the picture up, is it really that hard to ask them to take it off? You people are just trying to find SOME reason to hate Google.

    Just like the microsoft fanboys find stupid reasons to hate on Apple and visa-versa. Pull your heads out of your asses please.

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