#CyberFLASH: Bad online judgment shouldn’t haunt us forever

bellEvery person who didn’t grow up with the Internet has at some point turned to a friend and said “I’m so glad (insert social media network) wasn’t around when I was in high school.”

No such luck for Ala Buzreba, the 21-year-old Liberal candidate from Calgary who pulled out of the federal election last week after her teenage tweets were re-circulated by a self-described “stanch conservative.” Granted, this was not breakup poetry. The 17-year-old sent out tweets about how her new haircut made her “look like a flipping lesbian!!” and more troubling, used violent language to express her politics.“Your mother should have used that coat hanger,” she wrote to a pro-Israel account that expressed anti-Palestine sentiments. “Go blow your brains out you waste of sperm. #racist #asshole #bigot,” she wrote to a Twitter account that has now been deleted.

After the tweets surfaced, Buzreba apologized on social media and stepped down. I in no way condone Buzreba’s views. But I don’t think her online teenage behaviour should haunt her adult life.

Policymakers have recently sought to regulate the long shadow cast by social media slip-ups. In Europe and California, laws now exist that enable people to take digital erasers to their online activity. But rather than empower individuals to purify their online personas, our culture needs to become more tolerant of a generation’s habit to airs its flaws online.

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