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Google CEO Eric Schmidt Advises You Change Your Name To Escape Online Shame

Huffington Post   First Posted: 08/17/10 10:25 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 06:20 PM ET

Google Ceo Eric Schmidt

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Google CEO Eric Schmidt discussed the future of search, how newspapers will survive, and what's next for Google.

As ReadWriteWeb highlighted, Schmidt also shared some surprisingly frank, eyebrow-raising opinions on privacy online and the lengths to which we will have to go to protect our reputations in what the New York Times called an age defined by "the impossibility of erasing your posted past and moving on."

The Wall Street Journal's Holman Jenkins writes in his interview with Eric Schmidt that the CEO "predicts, apparently seriously, 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."

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

Will we really use this "restart button?" Many have questioned Schmidt's stance. "This notion isn't just scary--it seems downright pointless," wrote TechCrunch of the proposition. Researcher Danah Boyd calls the idea "ludicrous," adding it "completely contradicts historical legal trajectories," "fails to account for the tensions between positive and negative reputation," and "would be so exceedingly ineffective as to be just outright absurd."

Schmidt also discussed what Google knows about its users, and how it intends to use that information.

"I actually think most people don't want Google to answer their questions," he explained. "They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next."

Google, said Schmidt, "[knows] roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are," as well as your location, within a foot. Jenkins offers an example of how this could be applied, explaining, "If you need milk and there's a place nearby to get milk, Google will remind you to get milk. It will tell you a store ahead has a collection of horse-racing posters, that a 19th-century murder you've been reading about took place on the next block."

Earlier this month, Schmidt offered additional insight into his views on privacy at the Techonomy conference. As we reported here, he argued that anonymity on the Internet is dangerous and suggested the days of anonymity online are numbered. Read more.

Does Schmidt's name-change suggestion have merit or is it "ludicrous" and "absurd?" Weigh in below.

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