Hyderabad: The 1982 calendar defence that US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee may seem peculiar, but there will be more such cases considering the advent of social media.
Mr Kavanaugh, as a high school student, kept a detailed handwritten calendar of his activities. He used it last week during his confirmation hearings to defend himself against charges of rape.
Several teenagers and millennials are keeping a record of all the happenings in their lives. Every place they go, they ensure to check-in and share photos or feelings at that moment.
Millennials (born in 1980s-1990s) and generation Z (people born in mid-1990s and 2000s) are the first users of social media and are leaving a heavy digital footprint. This footprint can be used against them, and will be under scrutiny for people competing in high positions. It will also be used during interviews for jobs and admission into university. Some countries already require your social media ID for processing visas.
A social media expert on condition of anonymity said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders regularly face criticism for contradicting themselves in an old tweet. When an incident happens, people tend to first look into Facebook or Twitter for their previous posts. In the case of the recent honour killing of T. Pranay, a lot of people looked into his social media page. They look for details on what you shared and the state of your mind to judge you as a person.”
The expert added, “Whatever tweets you make as a child will be used to judge you and it is up to the law and order police to see if a person’s statements from a decade-old post are valid. Often, the online personalities are not a true reflection of a person and it may lead to wrong conclusions.”
Social media expert Tinu Cherian Abraham calls social media our public digital dairy. “We should be more than ever prudent in what we put there especially things we might be not so comfortable about in the future. Once up on the internet it is there permanently. Even employers have started doing background checks and analyses of online information about prospective employees,” Mr Cherian said.
Experts opine that people tend to delete stuff which Facebook throws up as memories, but there is no real validity that such data is deleted. Mr Cherian said, “Once deleted, it is never really gone. Someone could take a screenshot. There are sites that back-up websites. It is likely to come back.”