We have all been warned of the dangers of social media. In every conversation regarding blogging, tweeting or posting, one warning is consistently restated: once you put something on the Internet, the rest of the world is able to see it forever. In today’s world of technology, employers, potential romantic partners and even grandparents prowl social media, hoping to learn more about the lives of those they search. What you post is a crucial factor in determining how you are seen as a person.
But, we have all had our moments. We have all written a post that others were not very fond of. I admittedly have tweeted references to people that are less than flattering. Yes, you can manually delete posts, but what about the long-lost posts that people may accidently stumble upon that put you in a horrible light? Well, there’s an app for that now.
Clear is an in-the-works iOS app that flags old Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts that could be considered offensive and will, upon request, delete them from your feed. According to Techcrunch, the app prowls your feeds not just for blatantly offensive posts containing, for example, profanities and racial slurs, but also for “warning signs like references to racial groups or sexual orientation.” The app can even analyze the general sentiment of past posts.
The creator of the app, Ethan Czahor, wanted to help others avoid the consequences of social media that he himself was unable to navigate. But how effective is the app? For one, it could be a useful device in helping social media users choose less offensive words. This could enforce better social media habits, and make people aware of what they post and its effects. Another great feature is that Clear does the work of revisiting old posts for you, which saves time if, for example, you have a job interview and want to clear your profile quickly.
The app holds people accountable for their posts by showing any faults and allowing them to decide whether or not to post, but there are some issues. For one, if someone decides to screenshot your post or photo, the app cannot erase that from the device afterwards.
Another misconception is that this new app will “clean up” social media. In theory, it could. However, those who use their social media as an outlet for airing grievances may not be willing to get the app. No one likes being told that they need to clean out their posts. People who are aware of their derogatory posts are not likely to be the ones to purchase and use this app.
While this app will help hold people accountable for what they post, it may also make it too easy for some to censor their past. We should all have to accept our faults on social media. Clear just makes it so you don’t have to pay for them later.
Margaret Shaver ’17 firstname.lastname@example.org is from Centennial, Colo. She majors in English and sociology/anthropology with a management concentration.