When Did The Internet Become Forever?

I’ve heard the expression, “The Internet is Forever,” said numerous times online, on the radio and TV. But when did this happen? I’ve been online since the 1990s and despite numerous posts and comments I made on bulletin boards, newsgroups and websites as well as e-mails, etc., it seems that period is dark for me. So early 2000s? Late 2000s?

https://archive.org/ has website access going back well into the early 1990s (maybe even further) using the Wayback Machine. Granted this is more of a snapshot of past websites rather than the full documentation of each and every megabyte of data.

What I think is meant by “the internet is forever” is more like “you put it up, be prepared to never get it back down.” Maybe some mundane video of my dog may be able to be successfully deleted forever from the internet but that crazy video you did on spring break 10 years ago may just come back to haunt you 10 years from now when you try to get that all important job and a competitor anonymously sends it to your new prospective boss.

So maybe not each and every thing is forever but anything could be. “Watch the selfies” is all people are really saying when they say “the internet is forever.”


A lot of old Usenet newsgroup content is still out there. If I google my college email address, I can get newsgroup posts I made from as early as 1994.

There’s no ironclad guarantee that internet content will persist forever; that will depend in part on whether someone somewhere is willing to pay to keep the host site up and running. That wasn’t always the case 10/15/20 years ago, but these days, it is; there are numerous social media sites that are probably going to be up and running for a very long time, and if you post something that’s even mildly interesting, someone is sure to copy the content and cross-post it somewhere else. One small example, look at astronaut Chris Hadfield’s rendition of Space Oddity, performed on the ISS. Even if he elects to take his copy down, a number of folks have already copied the video and posted it to their own accounts. He may be able to convince YouTube that he owns the performance and that those copies should be deleted, but there’s a good chance that the video is now also hosted in places other than YouTube, and he could have a hard time finding them all.

Even pre-internet.

I had the experience of a small shareware program I made for the C-64 way back in the mid 80s make its way from a dial-up BBS, into a FidoNet, and ultimately onto a C-64 retro site.

If it’s the least bit interesting, it will propagate.

That explains things. Many of the posts I made on message boards in the 90s were not all that interesting.

I’ve occasionally stumbled across collections of mid-1980’s-era Usenet groups, archived on-line one place or another.

I always thought that was just something said to scare teenagers from sending nudes or whatever. I mean, I get that if you put something on the internet it can be spread around easily and then you probably won’t get it back, but if I post a picture of my cat and delete it 2 minutes later I’m pretty sure it’s gone forever - unless there’s some kind of mysterious internet archive that keeps useless things like that…:eek:

Despite common consensus, the internet has actually been around since the Cretaceous period, and will continue to remain with our specie until extinction. ( 23rd of July 2019)

That may depend on where you post it and who else see’s it. If you post it on your FB page for example, some guy in Azerbaijan that you only friended to play a game may log in at the same moment, see the pic and forward it to his gf in Australia. Your cat is now pretty much immortal (well the picture is).

Ok, with so many cute kitten pics around, it’s not that likely. That naked selfie with your knickers on your head is another thing entirely.

That depends on exactly where you post it. For example, every change made to a Wikipedia article is always saved. If you make somethings as small as a spelling change, and then change your mind 10 seconds later, you have NOT reverted the article to its previous version, but you have added two more changes to the pile.

The internet became forever with the combination of good easy to use search engines along with social media tagging and sharing. Without searching nobody will find your stuff among all the other stuff. With social media and sharing it became harder for you to remove stuff from the internet.

I remember when Geocities was forever…

A hubris unequalled since the days of the Thousand Year Reich. Or since Trump’s latest bloviation.

I’ve still got some old 8-tracks.

The Internet has never existed past September 1993, and never will.

/s/ Senegoid, September 7902, 1993.

As always, xkcd is on the case as well. And it’s even today’s episode. http://xkcd.com/1514/

If only it were so. The Wayback Machine removes any content a blogger or site owner requests be taken down. Which really chaps my hide, because there was a blog I loved, whose content I would have downloaded if it had ever occurred to me the owner would pull such a complete disappearing act. I don’t think Wayback should respect those requests any more than an author should be able to have every copy of one of their books destroyed. If you’ve put it out there in a public, non-password-protected site, it *should *be forever.

And I assume there is some more complete version of The Wayback Machine somewhere, but, what, you have to be in the NSA to see it?

It’s not really up to them. For better or for worse, current copyright law treats a webpage and an already-printed book very differently.

I’m not following. Can you elaborate?

You aren’t allowed to copy a webpage and serve it to anybody who wants to see it just because it was available to the public once. Legally, it’s the equivalent of the library xeroxing a book and giving a fresh copy to everyone who wanted to check it out. The Wayback Machine is already on the fringes of legality and allowing content owners to have their stuff taken down is pretty much the only thing keeping it from being sued into nonexistence. That might be silly in 2016, but it’s how it works.