California’s “eraser button” law: well-intentioned, short-sighted


According to Mashable, California has passed a law that puts into effect what’s being called an online “eraser button”:

“It’s hard to erase the stain of embarrassing social media posts once they’ve hit the web. For minors in California, however, the task just became a little bit easier. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law on Monday that requires websites to both remove content and provide notice of the removal when a requested by a minor (under age 18). This includes social media sites.”

That’s nice of you, Governor. I’m sure the kids appreciate it. You know, because they cared enough to not publish the stupidity in the first place.

I know. I know. The remorse sets in later. Great. The “eraser button” law to the rescue, right? Well, Mashable adds (emphasis mine):

“The law does not, however, protect against posts by third parties. This means that if someone else — a friend, enemy or other — posts a compromising picture of a California minor, that minor can’t force the site to remove the photo, even if the minor originally published the content. Since most popular social media sites allow users to delete their own content at will, the “eraser button” provision is little more than an official stamp on something already widely practiced.

So it’s a law that mandates Facebook and its ilk let me do what they already let me do. I have a better idea: How about we outlaw employers who think your unemployable because you did a beer bong during your senior year of high school?

In loosely related news, these kids and their dumbass parents are going to need a giant eraser after this shit-show. Short version: 300 kids break into someone’s uninhabited second home and throw a massive rager. They destroy everything, including a memorial to the homeowners’ stillborn grandchild. They post photos on the Interwebs. Who gets sued? The homeowner who invited the kids to the picnic-and-fixing-my-house party.

[photo courtesy of tonyamaker on]


76 thoughts on “California’s “eraser button” law: well-intentioned, short-sighted

  1. PM says:

    Excellent points. Surprised you didn’t get into revenge porn issues.

    It would be great if there were some kind of “eraser” button, but the strength of the internet is its redundancy, so i am simply not certain that this will ever be possible.

    1. Why are your surprised I didn’t get into that?! What do you know?!

      The bigger issue here, beyond the redundancy, is that this “eraser button” function is nearly without purpose. It lets people officially, authoritatively delete their own posts. You can do that anyway, just without the fanfare. But it doesn’t help a regretful teen “erase” photos his friend posted, so that senior-year beer bong photo is going to stick around anyway.

  2. bertram jr. says:

    Revenge porn…Interesting.

    Seems a fine learning tool – just don’t EVER give anyone pictures you wouldn’t want to see in the Sunday paper.

    What is the reason someone would do so?

    Is it the pornIFICATION OF THE culture that the liberal media and HOLLYWOOD HAVE CREATED?

    Yep. So no use crying over spilled milk.

  3. Erik Petersen says:

    I understand the concern, that ‘the internet is forever’. But I’d be shocked if in practice HR screens really include a cursory Faceboook check. The lesson of both Snowden and the Navy Yard guy is that bg checks are outsourced, and they come back as true or false for convictions. That’s it. Who’s got time or money for anything else?

      1. Erik Petersen says:

        OK. That’s a fairly easy question for a recruiter to answer ‘yes’ though, and there are some distinctions to be drawn. I work in this country’s vast staff augmentation blob, and I get ‘recruited’ regularly. But it’s by sales people who would like to put me in someone’s cubicle farm for some period of time. If in the course of prospecting me they check FB, that’s kind of benign.

        IF an HR person checks it after they have winnowed a pool down to 2 or 3 candidates for a straight FTE job, that’s another thing. I am just skeptical it’s a useful enough exercise to bother doing with any rigor.

        1. PM says:

          I think that it is done because:

          1) it is cheap to do–so cheap that you almost have to do it.
          2) it can catch some real problems–if someone is stupid enough to brag about something illegal that they have done on FB, then who would want them working in their company?

  4. Jim Leinfelder says:

    I dunno’, might come in handy here on TSRC if the anonymous posters suddenly found themselves outed. There’s no way for posters to delete their comments, is there?

    1. Erik Petersen says:

      Dennis thing is we have been far too sensitive here about ‘personal attacks’. That hasn’t gone on here at SRC in any real way. Still always been a very high brow discussion.

  5. Erik Petersen says:

    SRC top 5 male role models:

    Jay Carney
    Bill Maher
    Ezra Klein
    Chris Hayes
    Chris Kluwe
    Harry Potter
    David Foster Wallace

    I’m not sure any of these guys could turn a pipe wrench.

    But srsly…Re #4, that’s certainly true, but you could easily substitute ‘pop culture’ for ‘sports’

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        It’s a phallic, boot camp riff on the age old Marine Corps’ “Rifleman’s Creed.” One imagines most military groups have something equally witty calling attention to their peckers, including South Africa.

  6. Erik Petersen says:

    Re homeboymike – did this guy get vetted as a commenter, correspond by email, provide his Linkedin page and full name?

  7. Erik Petersen says:

    Hey you guys, why did Joe erase himself from SRC? How many active writers do you have now? Are you getting to add more?

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      Click on his name in his comments and you’ll be directed to his fresh and insightful political blog wherein he showcases his political sagacity for potential clients. Good stuff.

      1. Yes, he kills what he eats. And I have some true regrets that SRC became unenjoyable to him.

        I am going to blog. See link. Stop in. Perhaps I can help myself from being so absurd, and you all enjoy reading now and then.

  8. Erik Petersen says:

    Do you guys have snark shorthand worked up for Rand Paul? Thing is, it’s not obvious that any of the old reliables fit.

      1. Erik Petersen says:

        So do I. But I imagine the rest of the deep thinkers here are inclined to reflexively say ‘dumb’ or ‘craven’.

  9. Re shut down: in this age of safe congressional seats it’s not obvious that Republicans suffer as a result of being on the wrong side of public opinion. Assuming they are on the wrong side.

  10. Re “fundamental misunderstanding of representative democracy”. Meh.

    Defund was a bad faith overreach, perhaps like you say, at odds with the spirit of representative democracy..

    These other gambits…medical device tax repeal, one year delay for the mandate… are not beyond the pale to ask for. Indeed, they would be easy ‘aye’ votes for the Democrats if unanimity and loss of face weren’t so valued re the ACA. IE, it’s a shit sandwich, but all Democrats are forced to take a bite and smile. To not give in on these points where there is consensus is also a preference for anarchy that is undemocratic.

    There are quite a few things about the ACA that reflect an illegitimacy. Like the waiver of the mandate for business for a year, like the capricious exemptions for some businesses. This budget crisis is a perfectly good venue to highlight that, make people take votes, put ‘em on record. Nothing wrong with that.

    1. PM says:

      what do you mean “where there is consensus”? there is no consensus to delay.

      And, again, all of the points about the employer mandate delay are silly. This sort of thing is very common in the implementation of laws. Things get delayed all the time. To equate this with some form of illegitimacy is bizarre.

      1. You’re right on that point, but it’s a bit of a parse. Sure, there’s no consensus among the Democrats to delay the individual mandate. But it’s a throwaway, an easy concession, and would blunt this critique of capriciousness.

        Which is a real critique. There’s no capacity in the law for the administration to advise the IRS to not enforce the business mandate for a year. You figure if it’s litigated, the administration will lose. And no, there’s not any precedence for their ability to do so, has not happened ‘all the time’ if at any time. If you can demonstrate otherwise, I am sincerely interested to read it. It’s illegitimate.

      2. There’s another kind of illegitimacy, insofar as several of the premises that justify the ACA are lies.

        – Healthcare costs go up – everywhere, in excess of those in a world without the ACA.
        – Policy holders have increased premiums. Premiums were supposed to go down or at a minimum rise with less vigor against a pre-ACA baseline.
        – Young invinclibles won’t sign up. The actuarial are built on assumptions everyone should reasonably understand won’t occur. That’s a lie.
        – Program costs exceed a trillion or whatever the magic fake number is over 10 years. Revenues do not cover costs, despite what CBO/OMB says. It’s not going to happen.

        One of the I think important but unexplained conservative annoyances of the larger national conversation is to be able to discern among liberals the murmur that acknowledges ACA is a shit sandwich. But that these lies were justifiable to allow the train to depart and get down the tracks. But then the public conversation is supposed to be all polite, up to and including the parts where Klein and Chait tell us our persistent practical objections are ‘bizarre’.

        1. Jim Leinfelder says:

          It’s the best he could do in a conservative-obstructed country like ours. The ACA’s all the right’s work product. Nothing in there that progressives came up with. It’s all you, baby. When you’re as desperate as so many millions are in this country, a shit sandwich looks pretty tasty. If you want better, get out of the way.

          1. “Best he could do” is a retort that acknowledges and forgives the lies of ACA. It’s not an acceptable or serious argument.

            ACA, the exchanges is not a conservative idea. That’s hooey.

            1. Jim Leinfelder says:

              I would once again ask: What you have you guys got? You’ve had plenty of power and time and accomplished nothing for people left out of the insurance market. Nothing, not a single thing.

            2. – Subsidized risk pools
              – Tort reform
              – Plans that extend across state lines

              If you’re making a point about conservative ideological recalcitrance I can appreciate that. Yet I’m not sure it’s fair. The Republicans passed Medicare Part D. They very well may have reformed health care given some consensus and timing. But that vaporized with the war… Its reasonable to expect those steps could have insured as many people as ACA, as ACA isn’t going to cover that many people.

              That’s a very bad law the Democrats passed. I can’t believe what they chose given the opportunity to do anything they wanted.

            3. PM says:

              But the ACA exchanges ARE a conservative idea–an idea that originated with the Heritage Foundation. It is the application of market forces to private insurance companies.

            4. This is one of the lamest appeals to authority ever. It was bandied about in the conservative think tanks. Big deal.

              K, Joe Leiberman was a middle east hawk. Therefore, the Iraq war was a Democrat idea.

            5. PM says:

              Erik: you apparently do not understand the argument from authority. That argument goes like this “X is right because The Bible says X is right”: That is not the argument i made at all. I said X is an idea that originated with the GOP because the Heritage Foundation originated the idea.

              I could, of course, point out that the idea was originally implemented by Mitt Romney, a Republican, and the GOP presidential nominee. That is about as official a GOP position as you can get.

              Certainly, Leiberman did support the invasion of Iraq. His support does not mean that it was a Democratic idea, however. The idea clearly originated within the Bush Administration. Many Democrats supported the Bush Administration–they did not care about where the idea originated/. This is, of course, completely different than the behavior of the GOP on the question of health care reform. The GOP is displaying naked partisanship, which the Democrats did not do with respect to the Iraq War.

            6. I understand it, but sense also there might be a more specific debating term for what I am grasping at. In the absence of a better term, it strikes me as a [bogus] appeal to authority. EG, I’m a conservative, so ostensibly I should be swayed to know that leading conservatives have flirted with this idea and given it legitimacy. That’s not true, and the conservative origins of the individual mandate carry no weight in any event.

              Heritage coming up with the individual mandate =! conservatives have to vote for the ACA, lest they be partisan. Congress critters are responsible to their constituents, and there are numerous elements within the ACA that no Republican could vote for under almost any circumstance. The GOP personal income tax plank made it impossible to vote yes bc of the payroll tax hikes. The business tax plank made it impossible to vote yes bc of the device tax. Same for the employer mandate. Yet you and others who insincerely mouth this baloney assert they are partisan because they wouldn’t defy their constituents and cross over while getting nothing for it.

              It’s not a vote they could make, and ‘naked partisanship’ is about the seventh best reason to explain why that was the case. By vocation you are expertly qualified to understand this, amirite?

            7. PM says:

              The question is: why does the GOP oppose it? It is a GOP idea,. championed by Heritage and Romney, the GOP presidential candidate. It has in fact been implemented by a GOP governor, and it has in fact worked very well in the one state where it has been implemented–so well, in fact, that that very governor/Presidential candidate could only oppose it because he asserted that this should be done on a state level, not a national level.

              So it cannot be opposed as a commie/socialist idea unless you think that Heritage/Romney are also commie/socialist. It cannot be opposed on the basis of efficacy, because it has worked 100% of the time it has been tried.

              If you don’t like the way it is funded, you can certainly oppose the funding mechanism, but you can’t oppose the ACA itself–suggest an alternative funding mechanism, or simply allow for it to be supported from general revenues.

              But when you examine why people do not support it, you find that they do, in fact support all of the separate constituent parts of the ACA–overwhelmingly. When you ask them which they support, Obamacare vs. the ACA, you find that their support varies depending on the name–they support Obamacare less than they support the ACA.

              All of which leads to the pretty solid conclusion that the reason they do not support Obamacare is because of Obama–ie., partisanship. The opposition to the ACA is not based on the ACA itself. It is based on the President.

              As to why some people are so opposed to anything that Obama proposes, well……that is a different debate. Maybe it is simple partisanship. But that seems to me to be the most charitable explanation.

            8. It’s certainly OK to cast a no vote because you oppose the funding mechanism. That’s not an indicator if partisanship.

              Oh, go right ahead, lets have that conversation too. You folks wildly abuse the term of ‘racism’

            9. The larger point is that it doesn’t really matter what a conservative think tank may have said, because it was never tested against what a Republican congressional member can actually vote for under most circumstances. By the same logic, Romneycare doesn’t matter. Failure of ACA to get Republican support doesn’t equal partisanship, certainly not in the way you would claim it does.

              By the way, in the run up to ACA passage, we were being assured ObamaCare would:

              *reduce premiums / rates
              *not be disruptive to existing policy holders. As a practical matter, this means their plans wouldn’t be terminated and they wouldn’t have to find a different clinic.

              This could even at the time be intuitively discerned as not true. Eg, “a lie” And on that basis, provided a perfectly good rationale for voting against the package. IE, there was no way the asserted benefits could come to fruition, and things that make it palatable would not actually be possible. If that’s not a reasonable, acceptable rationale for voting against something, I’d ask that you tell us why not.

              Other thing is, it was such obvious bullshit. You wonder why there’s such bitterness over ACA. Well, people are still pissed about the lies, which were smug, obsequious, and numerous.


        2. PM says:

          here is the text, as this is behind a paywall:

          Obamacare—A Game-Changer in the Making? Medicare Part D Offers a Glimpse at How Health Reform Can Succeed Despite Skepticism

          What if Obamacare actually works? More precisely, what if the new health-insurance marketplaces called exchanges work?

          They might just change the way most Americans get health insurance.

          Admittedly, this is a big if.

          The launch of the exchanges was marred by software glitches, confusion and outright resistance in some states. The Obama administration has delayed so many provisions of the law, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, that it resembles departure monitors on a stormy summer afternoon at New York’s La Guardia Airport.

          Messy drafting and a tortured partisan path through Congress made the law hard to implement: Drexel University’s John Cannan needed 42 pages to describe the legislative history in the American Association of Law Libraries’ journal.

          What if Obamacare actually works? More precisely, what if the new health-insurance marketplaces called exchanges work? David Wessel analyzes the implications on the News Hub. Photo: Getty Images

          The whole experiment might collapse of its own weight even if Republicans fail in their efforts to eviscerate it legislatively.

          But focus on the exchanges, the new electronic markets where health insurance will be sold the way flights are sold on Expedia or Orbitz. Eligible consumers—the uninsured, those who buy insurance on their own and certain others—will pick a policy from competing private insurance plans. Some will get government subsidies; some won’t. The theory is that more choice and more competition will yield better value.

          “If insurers are able to provide low-cost coverage in the exchanges that people like”—even if that means limiting choice of doctors and hospitals to get lower prices—”larger insurers and employer plans may seek similar deals,” says economist Stephen Zuckerman of the Urban Institute think tank, which is monitoring the implementation of the law with a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant. “If they are successful, the exchanges could end up serving as a guide toward serious cost controls throughout the system.”

          Given the current unpopularity of Obamacare, this may sound far-fetched. But flash back to the 2006 launch of the Medicare prescription-drug benefit.

          Unlike conventional one-size-fits-all government Medicare policies, seniors pick from among competing private drug-insurance plans. Medicare Part D was unpopular at first. Today, there are few audible complaints. Consumers have a lot of choice. Because competition sometimes works as the textbooks suggest, premiums are lower than initially projected.

          At the beginning of 2006, half the seniors surveyed by the Kaiser Family Foundation said they had an unfavorable impression of the benefit. Kaiser hasn’t repeated that poll, but a recent KRC Research survey found 90% of seniors enrolled in a Medicare drug plan described themselves as satisfied, and two-thirds of those said they were very satisfied.

          “In terms of confusion, lack of knowledge, and misinformation, the current situation with exchanges resembles the situation that prevailed when Part D enrollment opened,” says Daniel McFadden of the University of California at Berkeley, a Nobel laureate who has studied the program.

          The Obama health law is more complex. “There is a lot less government money going into the exchanges to lubricate their operations, and there was no organized political campaign against the Part D market,” he says.

          Still, for people without insurance on the job and those who now buy insurance on their own, it won’t take much for the government-supervised exchanges to be better than the status quo—provided startup hiccups fade and enough insurers show up.

          “The exchanges would open up a significant part of the health-services industry to competition on value, and that could be a big positive change, but not big enough because it applies only to individuals without employer coverage and very small employers,” says Stanford University economist Alain Enthoven, who long has championed harnessing competition to wrestle down health costs.

          Most of the 55% of Americans who now get health insurance on the job can’t shop on an exchange. But Mr. Enthoven and others note a simultaneous development: A small but growing number of big employers—Walgreen Co., Sears Holdings Corp., Darden Restaurants Inc., International Business Machines Corp.—are planning to give employees or retirees vouchers to shop among competing insurance plans on private exchanges.

          Some employers see this as a way to get out of the business of purchasing health care directly and, as suspicious workers realize, to limit their share of increases in health costs. Benefits consultants, such as Aon and Mercer, see a business in organizing private exchanges. Analysts at Booz & Co., the consultancy, say the exchanges hold particular promise for small and midsize employers that don’t have the negotiating clout with health providers that big companies do. Some insurers see the transparency of the exchanges as a way to focus attention on what actually is driving up health costs. (They blame providers’ prices.)

          Americans have grown accustomed to online comparison shopping, as the overwhelming number who clicked on health-exchange websites demonstrates. Over time, more Americans may actually comparison-shop for health insurance—a new experience for many—choosing lower premiums for higher deductibles and narrower networks of doctors and hospitals or vice versa. They might like it. If they do, shifting basic Medicare to a similar approach might follow.

          The government shutdown is temporary. The exchanges may be permanent.

            1. PM says:


              (Hey, i did cite them!)

              Besides, this is news–the WSJ is recognizing reality! Committing journalism! How often does that conservative information bubble get pierced like this?

          1. Good article, and I can identify a certain plausibility there. But I’m skeptical, and see the forces of larger employer insurance markets making that sort of competition from the exchange plans impossible.

  11. There’s been budget and debt crises before.

    And Democrats have precipitated them, you know, despite not having won enough elections and all that… Now, there’s a danger of a false equivalency here I know, but what this ought to mean is this is basically an OK tactic, no matter who uses it.

    It isn’t ‘anarchy’, BTW. Or ‘nihilism’. I’d still love to know the 1978 New Republic or Rolling Stone article y’all lifted that ‘nihilism’ point from.

  12. bertram jr. says:

    Democrats created slavery, and Jim Crow laws. What they are attempting with ObummerCare is no different.

  13. Yeah, that burning down a floor of the house thing is snarktastic. Kudos.

    How about this one:

    Person #1: I want to remove this odious medical device tax from the law

    Person #2: No, that would be a tacit admission there are many parts of ACA that are ill conceived.

    Person #1: I want delay the individual mandate a year then, like the employer mandate is.

    Person #2: No, that would be a tacit admission ACA is being implemented capriciously

    Person #1: Why do you refuse to compromise?

  14. We have been here before Mike. Your expectations are too high. SRC has a very literate quality to it, and I like that. But all these guys argue broad themes and deflect a granular discussion. They’re either temperamentally unsuited to grasp and communicate details (and with that I am not making much of a judgment) or in some cases they just don’t have the smarts for it. Either way, verbosity is always the manner of deflection. But no mistake this is not a discussion roundtable. More often it’s a place to go HA HA DID YOU SEE THE DAILY SHOW STEWART CALLED CONSERVA5TIVES TEH STUPID.

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      Erik, bear in mind that you now have a blog, against which we can hold your qualitative critiques of this one for the sake of contrast.

  15. Doubtful quite really that Sinclair Lewis would say nothing has changed. The progress that has been made since his time would be too absurd to argue.

    Re bankruptcy, this has always been an easily rejectable premise. Physicians / medical centers extend people credit to get care. There ain’t much shame in having those debts discharged in bankruptcy. People don’t agonize that much about taking the service and not paying for it if the stakes are high enough, and this is perfectly rational. Mind you, yes, some things are problematic. Bill collectors and judgments suck. Policy holders end up paying for non-payers. GPs and specialists probably lose tens of thousands a yr in fees (but hey, they make big money).

    In the end it doesn’t add up as a justification for the shit sandwich that is ACA.

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      Well, naturally, I couldn’t resist a look, and came away without the slightest insight into what that phrase is meant to convey, which, it would appear, puts me on a par with the shut-in who coined it.

    2. Jim Leinfelder says:

      Seriously, you haven’t assigned this yet:

      5. That bloke who just spends an awful lot of his time thinking about gay sex.

        1. bertram jr. says:


          I just love that our “major metropolitan daily” has a gay lifestyle column in plain view…..

  16. Ya figure the popular media narrative is that Democrats have a moral authority in the shutdown fight. But if the Republicans don’t start to feel the heat of some shame, that’s going to be all for naught. They can ride out a stalemate for a while.

    One of the things getting in the way of them feeling that heat are the stories of ‘shutdown theater’, ie, the capricious closing of the memorials, parks, Mrs. Obama’s twitter account, the Amber Alert system. These stories are sustaining the right, and it doesn’t seem they have been debunked in a meaningful way. I’m wondering if progressives see these stories. Do they not make it onto MSNBC?

      1. I expect that blonde newscaster doesn’t actually have a great grasp on political science. Everyone know the President is an atheist.

        You got a problem though, in that Democrats don’t vote in mid terms. And all the R seats are safe. Not sure what pressure you think there is to bear on these guys.

    1. PM says:

      We know that Boehner can’t make a deal until he can make both deals–the continuing resolution and the debt ceiling. Trying to do them separately/sequentially would result in him losing the Speakership for sure, so he has to try to ride out this week before he can make a move to come to the middle.

      I expect that he is hoping that the chamber of Commerce types will bring some pressure to bear on the Tea Party idiots in his caucus. Otherwise, he personally is toast, as are GOP hopes in the midterm elections:

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