Internet addicts may need new identities in future

Google bosses have warned that social networking today could come back to haunt people in the future. Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, has especially cautioned young Facebook users from posting photos, videos and comments that could potentially embarrass them and prevent them from getting a job in the future.

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Mr Schmidt voiced concerns that people do not understand the consequences that may come of having so much personal information readily available online.

He said to the Wall Street Journal: "I don't believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time.

"I mean we really have to think about these things as a society."

And while Mr Schmidt may have a point, his position as CEO of Google, the biggest search engine in the world that relies on accessing and storing vast amounts of data about people, makes him vulnerable to criticism for hypocrisy.

Chris Williams, of the online tech news website The Register said: "Recording everything and making it knowable by everyone all the time is Google's stated mission.

"It is profiting handsomely from the fact that society doesn't understand the consequences."

Google is privy to all kinds of information from its users through its Gmail service, Google StreetView and YouTube.

Even President Barack Obama, who is an avid social networker, warned against using the internet irresponsibly.

He said: "In the YouTube age whatever you do, it will be pulled up again later somewhere in your life."

And with an estimated 600 million people who have online profiles of some sort that are easily available to strangers, that's potentially a lot of dirt that could be used against someone in the future.

Many internet experts agree with Mr Schmidt's comments and believe that children and adults should be made aware about the consequences of sharing information online.

Dylan Sharpe, from the privacy website Big Brother Watch, said: "Mr Schmidt is completely right on how much information we are giving away online.

"Right now there are millions of young kids and teenagers who, when they apply for jobs in ten years time, will find that there is so much embarrassing stuff about them online that they cannot take down.

"Undoubtedly we need to educate children, and many adults, for that matter, on the value of privacy.

"But with social networking growing in scope and popularity, the real question is - can we put Pandora back in her box?"

Do you think that people really understand the repercussions of sharing personal details online or do you think that a few drunken photos will hardly make a difference to future job prospects? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.