On a believability scale, the idea that teenagers are idiots is closer to “the sky is blue” than “the Universe might be little more than a giant hologram.” Now we can thank two teens for proving this point by filming themselves entering an Apple Store, attempting to bend as many iPhone 6 Plus models as they can find, and incurring more than $ 2,500 in damages in the process before publishing the video — which prominently features both their names and faces — on YouTube.
This not-so-grand experiment shows a few things: that teens aren’t the smartest geniuses in the Apple Store; that the iPhone 6 Plus is at least a little bendy, despite claims to the contrary; and that we should have a system in place to make sure videos like this can be nigh-unfindable when these teens become adults.
I’m not going to spend too much time talking about the first two points. Complaining about kids doing stupid things is like saying that no-one appreciates music because today’s teens would rather listen to “Fancy” than “Hotel California,” and I’ve already written about what some unimaginative jerk has forced the entire world to call “Bendgate” and the iPhone 6 Plus. Instead, I want to focus on how videos like this should have some kind of expiration date.
Europe already believes this. That’s why several countries are enforcing the so-called “right to be forgotten,” a ruling which allows people to ask search companies to remove links to results for searches of their names, despite the oh-so-predictable outrage caused by the ruling. (And believe me, this ruling has been controversial since it was first announced, at least when it suits Google and other search companies to stoke the flames by provoking European newsmakers.)
There’s nothing wrong with laughing at these kids’ decision to post a video of themselves destroying so much property without pausing to think of the potential fallout. It’s a nice break from news about terrorist groups performing new atrocities, the threat Ebola poses to basically everyone in the world, and protests everywhere from Ferguson to Hong Kong. In a world like this it’s important to get your kicks wherever you can find them.
But that doesn’t mean that these kids should be haunted by their ill-advised video. They have already pulled it from YouTube, but that hasn’t stopped mirrors from grabbing it and making sure it remains available. Hell, all you have to do is read the Daily Dot story linked above to see the video, even though it’s clear that the teens would be happier if it disappeared from the Web.
I’m not saying that the video should disappear entirely. Apple has a right to use the video as evidence against the teens if it decides to charge them for their destructive experiment, and it should be allowed to keep a copy for itself. But that doesn’t mean that the rest of the world should be able to view this video decades down the line, when these kids are looking for jobs.
Sure, one of the kids’ closing statement — “We were in the Apple store bending and breaking their iPhone, which is like criminal damage I guess. I don’t even care to be honest, because it’s Apple’s fault” — is probably the stupidest argument this side of “but John’s parents let us do it!” And yes, it was stupid to try this experiment and even stupider to post a video of it to YouTube.
The question is whether or not mocking those decisions is worth leaving a video that could haunt these kids online against their wishes. I, and the tens of thousands of people who have asked that links be removed from search results for their names, think that the answer is “no.”