Most young people have Facebook and Twitter accounts but have no clue that what they post will be out there in the cyber-universe forever.

As the influence of social media continues to grow, Assembly Democrats Celeste Riley, Paul Moriarty and Herb Conaway are pushing to create a web campaign to inform young people about online privacy and social media responsibility.

Assemblywoman Celeste Riley says, “My generation hasn’t had to deal with the consequences of having something you did as a teenager on the Internet come back and haunt you, but this generation will.”

The full Assembly has passed the measure that directs the state Department of Law and Public Safety (LPS) to operate a website with information about how to protect one’s privacy on the Internet, how to use social media responsibly and protect one’s privacy while using social media, and the potential negative consequences of failing to protect one’s privacy on the Internet or to use social media responsibly.

“Many young people use social media, but don’t really understand the information and images they share online lives in perpetuity,” says Riley. “Educating our kids about the perils of sharing personal information online will help them make better decisions about what is and what is not appropriate for the web.”

Under the legislation, LPS The department produce or hire someone to produce instructional videos on how to use the privacy settings on popular websites and social media platforms and post them on the website. The department must also maintain an active presence on popular social media platforms and use these platforms to disseminate information relating to the campaign, and to encourage young people to access the information on the website.

Moriarty explains, “Social sites allow us to connect with friends and family around the world, but they can also be breeding grounds for predators. This campaign will help our young people make responsible decisions and avoid the dangers that lurk online.”

The bill authorizes LPS to partner with student organizations, state academic institutions, and local and state agencies to generate content for the website or to develop and promote training programs and seminars designed to support the campaign. The department may also develop an internship program to assist in creating content for the website, disseminating information through the website, or in any other manner that is relevant to the campaign.

“One poor decision can haunt you into adulthood,” says Conaway. “Young people need to know that what they share on the web is public and permanent. By letting them know how to protect themselves, they will hopefully think twice about over sharing online.”