Google: If You're Worried About Online Privacy, Just Change Your Name

I like what Google CEO Eric Schmidt has to say about education, technology, media, advertising and the future of smart rectangular screens with pixels. But I'm not digging his new idea that our youthful hijinks, often frozen in the amber of the interwebs, wouldn't matter so much if we would all just change our names whenever we wanted!

[Schmidt] predicts, apparently seriously, that every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends' social media sites.

Did the Wall Street Journal misquote him? Please, please tell me the Wall Street Journal misquoted him.

If a friend told me he'd changed his name because of some Facebook picture, I'd either laugh in disbelief, or assume the Facebook picture was him smiling with Osama bin Laden holding a cardboard check for opium money in one hand and a print-out of U.S. troop positions in the other. Surely there are better, less insinuating ways to cover up or apologize for a drunken photo than legally disowning your name. If Schmidt's suggesting we should standardize name changes at 22 to avoid embarrassment, that seems rather like getting a full-on face transplant to treat acne.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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