Facebook profiles can have a big impact on job-seeking potential these days. The service has become more than just a fun way of sharing small day-to-day updates or photos with friends (while being incessantly marketed to by a dozen of companies on the sidebar). The ironic thing is that those little well-intended postings can prove to be the downfall of one’s career prospects. A few occasional swear words or a photo tag containing one too many alcohol bottles can send a negative message to a prospective employer. Worse yet, with anyone capable of tagging or sharing posts on their friend’s timeline, the typical user may not always be in full control of the content. Social Sweepster promises to fix that by providing an easy way to remove inappropriate Facebook photos for potential job seekers. However, is this new service worthwhile?
Manually going through all the photos, tags, statuses and events can quickly prove an overwhelmingly Sisyphean task. Even with great attention to detail, one is prone to miss a few things. Luckily, technology once again comes to the rescue, and there are several websites that promise to help with those issues. Socially Clean claims to be “The Most Sophisticated Social Cleaning App in the World” by scanning all posts for inappropriate content, both on one’s own profile and their friends.’ Simple Wash is another similar service. However, both solutions have been limited to text content only.
Enter Social Sweepster, led by Tom McGrath, a graduate of Indiana University’s Class of 2013. His latest solution is an easy way to do visual clean up, going as far back as 2005, in its unyielding goal of removing inappropriate photos from a job seeker’s Facebook profile. It utilizes a so-called computer vision technology to scan for certain red flag elements such as beer cans. Even the college students’ signature red Solo cups will not escape the sharp teeth of the imaging algorithm.
The technology is only in beta and far from perfect, but the potential seems very promising. The application shows the user’s offending photos and offers a choice between deleting, untagging or just leaving it alone. Even if it draws many false-positives, it could still find numerous inappropriate content that one’s eyes could have missed.
However, the counter argument has been drawn whether users would be willing to pay for such a service. Should employers base their judgement of character on a few random texts and images often taken completely out of context? After all, how many of those in the hiring chairs have not indulged in one too many drinks during the early college years? McGrath is not fazed, however, explaining that the service is not a huge expense for someone who “spent all this money on a college education and … $5 on a coffee.”
Social media has had an enormous impact on modern society and proves a valuable venue for finding employment. Aside from background checks, it can also be used much more directly. Posting an update about searching for a new job or messaging a company official page could lead to several referrals. This is particularly invaluable for freelance or artistic jobs, making it another great method of networking. In those cases, one’s profile effectively is the first impression a prospective employer sees. Depending on the seriousness of a particular industry, it might be an easy way to boost the job seeker’s chances by going through the Facebook profile and removing (or making private) at least the most recent inappropriate photos, statuses and tags.
By Jakub Kasztalski