All information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Ninomiya Law, PLLC and Kent Ninomiya only provide legal advice to clients when there is a valid engagement agreement signed by both attorney and clients. The principal office of Ninomiya Law, PLLC is located in Round Rock, Texas. Ninomiya Law, PLLC is responsible for the content of this website.
Anytime is a good time for a digital profile cleaning. An especially good time is prior to major life events when people will be Googling your name. Examples are when applying for a job, when applying to college, and when being considered for anything requiring good moral character and ethical behavior. Under Chapter 10 of a 2016 Omnibus appropriations bill that became law on December 18, 2015, federal agencies are required to consider social media activity as part of the security clearance process. Existing security clearance holders will have their social media activity evaluated at least twice within a 5-year period. Most employers and educational institutions now search social media as part of their hiring and acceptance procedures.
keeping you and your family safe
Many people say "so what? I have nothing to hide." Well, that is almost never true. It is not a matter of having deep dark secrets. It is natural to share some personal matters with your spouse or best friends while choosing not to share them with your mother or boss. While there might not be anything illegal about going to that "interesting" website, you may not want the entire world to know what you do in the privacy of your own home. Have you ever posted a picture of yourself that was funny to your friends but completely inappropriate for others to see? Have you ever made a comment that, taken out of context, could make you appear insensitive, cruel, or racist? Have you ever told someone you were in one place then left evidence online that you were actually somewhere else? Many people have lost lawsuits, jobs, and opportunities to go to college because something was seen by the wrong person on social media.
Deleting questionable content that you have access to is a good start, but that is just a fraction of what exists on the Internet. Every time you post, text, or email something, someone else receives it. The sender does not have access to recipient accounts, anyone recipients forwarded the information to, or the servers that host the social media. Besides, nothing is every truly deleted from the Internet. There are entire websites devoted to taking screen shots of deleted tweets and webpages. Remember websites like Snapchat and Ashley Madison? They promised data would not be saved but it turns out that wasn't always the case. There is also information, called "metadata," that you don't generally see. It records details such as time, location, author, edits, websites visited, habits, and patterns of all your online activity. Metadata is useful in legal cases to prove who did what, when, and in what quantity. If a lawyer wants metadata, they can often get a court order to go through your computer, phone, or even the website servers to get it. Have you ever wondered why you could look at a product online and, even though you didn't share any of your personal information with the vendor, an advertisement for that product immediately appears on your Facebook page? That's your metadata following you around. There is little you can do to remove metadata about your social media activity, so be careful what you do in the first place.
Prevention is always the best policy. Don't post anything to social media that you will later regret. As a general rule, if you wouldn't show the content to your mother, boss, children or religious adviser, then don't share it on the Internet. This includes personal emails, texts, and messages to a single person that you consider private. Remember, anything electronic can be saved, copied, and forwarded. Check the privacy settings on all of your social media accounts and limit distribution of your content only to the people you know and trust. It is amazing the number of people who never bother to do this. Go through your list of social media friends and sever ties with people you do not actually know. If someone desperately wants to be your friend online, be very suspicious. If you have already posting something questionable, consider the following:
If you can't remove questionable content from the Internet, it is probably because it was distributed by third parties or posted on an inaccessible account or website. Resolving this issue requires stronger measures because the actions of others are needed and those parties are often reluctant to cooperate. There are legal remedies that, in some situations, can force third parties to act or make the opposing party so uncomfortable that they agree to comply. Always contact a qualified licensed attorney before taking legal action so you know your legal options.
For more options, see the Your Options page of this website.