When the New York Times Writes About Your Problems on the Internet, Your Problems Last Forever

How do you clean up your online reputation? Jeffrey Rosen tangled with the problem in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine:

[W]e are only beginning to understand the costs of an age in which so much of what we say, and of what others say about us, goes into our permanent — and public — digital files. The fact that the Internet never seems to forget is threatening, at an almost existential level, our ability to control our identities; to preserve the option of reinventing ourselves and starting anew; to overcome our checkered pasts.

Rosen begins his piece by reminding us of the story of a student teacher who got denied her teaching degree from Millersville University after she posed a MySpace photo of herself drinking from a plastic cup and wearing a pirate hat, with the caption “drunken pirate.” Here is our number-one example of how “the Internet records everything and forgets nothing.”

Shouldn’t the Internet have also recorded the names of the people who decided to punish this woman, four short years ago? Fair is fair. I went looking for contemporary news coverage. Yahoo News ?

Article not found or expired on Yahoo! News

Millersville Intelligencer Journal ?

Web photo haunts graduate
MU sued for denying degree
Intelligencer Journal
Apr 27, 2007 03:17 EST

By Brett Lovelace, Staff

The complete text of this article is no longer available online.

Some immortality.

The Smoking Gun

, at least, kept track of who the woman had sued: Millersville ed-school dean Jane S. Bray, student-teaching program supervisor J. Barry Girvin, and Millersville provost Vilas A. Prabhu.

Meanwhile, when I searched on the name of the woman herself, Google’s first page of results was topped by the page of a potter who shares the woman’s not uncommon name. Below it, the first result that mentions the pirate-hat scandal was a

ripoff reprint

of the Times Magazine article, with Rosen’s byline stripped out.