Our Opinion: Social media posts are forever

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Peter Oleskiewicz, the owner of the Mexican restaurant Desperados in North Adams, is by some accounts, including his own, a much different person from the one who posted disparaging comments about people of color, Muslims, and, ironically, Mexicans on Facebook six years ago. Those words, however, cannot be retrieved from the web.

Screenshots of Mr. Oleskiewicz's Facebook comments, which among the insulting remarks included a 2012 query as to why President Barack Obama "had not been assassinated yet," were recently aggregated on a Tumblr page (Eagle, Aug. 8). When they were brought to the attention of 1Berkshire CEO Jonathan Butler, Mr. Oleskiewicz was asked to withdraw his nomination for 1Berkshire's "Newcomer of the Year" award, which the restaurateur did.

Social media comments coming back to haunt their authors is not uncommon. Over the past month, racist and homophobic tweets made as teenagers have returned to embarrass four Major League ballplayers, all of whom, like Mr. Oleskiewicz, say they are much different people today. Nonetheless, any internet search of the players will always produce those tweets along with a listing of their accomplishments. In the case of Mr. Oleskiewicz, who briefly mounted a mayoral campaign in North Adams a year ago, it is difficult to imagine a political future for him in light of the Facebook postings.

Those who harbor prejudices toward minorities might want to introduce themselves to a few — Mr. Oleskiewicz told The Eagle that his attitude changed when he began to "get out and talk to these people." Failing that, it is wise to remember that while bigoted, hateful tweets and posts can be deleted, one's past can't be deleted. Perhaps, however, it can be redeemed.


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