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Naked on the Internet Is Not Forever (The Atlantic)

Quoted in this piece originally published by The Atlantic

But if you're not a political candidate, does being naked on the Internet even matter anymore? Maybe not, argues Anthony Rotolo, assistant professor of social media at Syracuse University. "There's a half life to the stuff that we share on line, and it's really short,” he says. “The Internet lives on moments. It lives on what is viral right now, whether globally (like Justin Bieber getting arrested), or viral within your own social network. Then it's over very quickly. What we're seeing is that your naked pictures from 10 years ago are nowhere near as appealing as someone else's new naked pictures, which will be forgotten tomorrow anyway."
Rotolo credits Facebook with helping to foster this change. As recently as a decade ago, identities on the Internet were much more protected. It was seen as foolhardy to ever use your real name online, to the extent that people even had separate credit cards for their online purchases. Under those circumstances, it was easy to pretend that embarrassing Internet pictures were something that could never happen to the average person. Then Facebook came along, forcing everyone to use their real name. And in doing so, the blue F helped embarrassing Internet pictures become a normal part of being online. As Rotolo puts it, “Facebook made us realize that anyone claiming they haven't done embarrassing things on the Internet is probably lying.”

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