📑 Why an internet that never forgets is especially bad for young people

Bookmarked Why an internet that never forgets is especially bad for young people (MIT Technology Review)

As past identities become stickier for those entering adulthood, it’s not just individuals who will suffer. Society will too.

Kate Eichhorn discusses the way in which the young people today are tracked and transformed through the use of algorithms. This strips them of any possibility of psychosocial moratorium. Young people are subseqeuntly becoming risk-adverse wgere they are becoming prisoners to perfection at a younger age.

LinkedIn originally had an age minimum of 18. By 2013, the professional networking site had lowered its age floor to 13 in some regions and 14 in the United States, before standardizing it at 16 in 2018. The company wouldn’t say how many middle and high schoolers are on the platform. But they aren’t hard to find.

As one 15-year-old LinkedIn user (who asked to remain anonymous for fear of losing her account) explained to me, “I got my first LinkedIn page at 13. It was easy—I just lied. I knew I needed LinkedIn because it ranks high on Google. This way, people see my professional side first.” When I asked why she needed to manage her “professional side” at 13, she explained that there’s competition to get into high schools in her region. Since starting her LinkedIn profile in eighth grade, she has added new positions and accomplishments—for example, chief of staff for her student union and chief operating officer for a nonprofit she founded with a 16-year-old peer (who, not surprisingly, is on LinkedIn too).

The fear is that:

In a world where the past haunts the present, young people may calcify their identities, perspectives, and political positions at an increasingly young age … The risk is that young people who hold extreme views as teenagers may feel there’s no use changing their minds if a negative perception of them sticks regardless. Simply put, in the future, geeky kids remain geeky, dumb jocks remain dumb, and bigots remain bigots. Identities and political perspectives will be hardened in place, not because people are resistant to change but because they won’t be allowed to shed their past. In a world where partisan politics and extremism continue to gain ground, this may be the most dangerous consequence of coming of age in an era when one has nothing left to hide.

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