A new law that takes effect in 2015 was written to protect California teenagers who use social media from themselves and from some advertisers.
Former California State Senate President Darrell Steinberg wrote the law. He says any social media site accessible in California must give minors a chance to delete what they post before it goes viral.
"Universities are looking at the Facebook accounts and other internet sites for young people. Sometimes somebody who is 15, 16, 17 may say or do something that they may think is innocent but can actually affect their ability to get into college," says Steinberg. "This is a common-sense provision that allows them or their parent -if they find out about it quickly enough- to say 'Hey, take that down.'"
The law also makes it illegal to advertise items like drugs or guns to minors if it is illegal to market those products to minors in other media.
"If it's illegal to sell something to a minor in a retail outlet, it ought to also be illegal to market that product to a minor on the internet," says Steinberg.
Parents like Amanda Langlois agree a teenager should be able to delete a mistake made in humor or anger.
"Threats or mean things towards other kids out of anger or hate or whatever: to be able to retract that so the other child isn't forever affected by it is important."
The law does not provide protection for teens who post something illegal. Nor does it apply to a message or picture that is re-posted by someone else.
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.