Earlier today I received an email from a reader who wondered if I had any regret about sharing a blog post whose author intended not to be read. It’s a reasonable question and I would be lying if I didn’t admit to thinking twice before posting. But here’s the deal. If the post in question reminded us of anything it’s that the delete button is a myth. You can make information published to the Internet more difficult to find, but, with few exceptions, it cannot be permanently erased. All of us who interact on the Internet through various social media platforms must understand this before leaving a comment, posting an image and before blogging.
We must be willing to take responsibility for everything we upload to the Internet…FOREVER.
That the author of the blog intended this particular post not to be read is ultimately irrelevant since it is still accessible. In this case it was a reader who went through a very simple process of retrieval. Bloggers especially need to remember that notices are sent out via email and RSS to subscribers immediately after a post has been published. That url makes a deleted post very easy to recover. Through WayBack Machine you can read this site when it was hosted at TypePad back in 2007. That site has been “deleted” for years. [Wow, did I really really use a two-column format for widgets.]
The ease with which deleted posts, images, comments, etc. can be retrieved is something that I constantly reinforce in the classroom. Most of my students are woefully ignorant, for example, of the security settings on Facebook. However, even those who do make the effort to secure their pages need to understand that, ultimately, everything is “out there” and accessible.
We are all equally responsible for our online behavior. Hopefully, this will serve as a reminder to take extra care before hitting that publish button.