New App Helps Job-Seekers Clean Their Facebook Profiles

A new app, called Facewash, is the latest tool that aims to save the unsavvy social-network user from himself.
Facewash works by searching the comments posted on your wall, your status updates, comments on photos you're tagged in, photos you posted, links you've 'liked." After connecting your Facebook (FB) account, the site scans your profile to find "dirty" words and potentially unsavory photos. Users can also search for specific terms if they think Facewash's list might have missed something.

The app was launched by three college students as an entry in a hackathon hosted by the University of Pennsylvania last weekend. Facewash's developers - Camden Fullmer, Daniel Gur, and David Steinberg, all computer science majors at Kent State University in Ohio - discussed the idea for the app on the drive to the competition. They saw the need for such a tool, particularly for college-age young adults like them who use Facebook a lot and probably have "things on there you wouldn't want a future employer to see or your mother to see," says Steinberg. "Why not help automate the process of finding the undesirable posts and comments you wouldn't want others to find?"

The app won in the Best Hack for Students category by 10gen, a software company (the developers received a $500 prize).

Background check yourself

We all know by now (or should) that employers do a fair bit of online sleuthing to learn more about job candidates and weed out those whose online trails suggest they're less-than-professional.

According to a 2012 survey by CareerBuilder, 37% of companies use social networks to research potential job candidates, and more than 65% of that group uses Facebook as their primary resource. The most common reason hiring managers are looking at social media is to see if candidates present themselves professionally, the survey said.

The usual no-no's may sound obvious for those on the professional track: No drinking, drugs, nudity or profanity. Make sure your Facebook photos are G-rated and don't make derogatory comments about previous employers, bosses or colleagues.

But an increased use of social media doesn't correspond with an increase in web savvy. "Our data suggest that, as people continue to increase their online presence, the number of things we identify that are sexually explicit, potentially racist or displays of illegal activity only grows," says Max Drucker, CEO and president of Social Intelligence, a company that performs social media background screening and investigations for employers.

And the potential for gaffes increases with Facebook's new graph search feature, announced last week. The company's new tool turns users' shared information into a searchable database, and one reasonable concern - aside from privacy - is that the personal information will be more readily available and accessible to others. And apparently, it makes it easier for users to look dumb.

SOURCE: Lisa Scherzer
The Exchange
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