Should You Clean Up Your Facebook?

by Evil HR Lady on March 27, 2014

I received a pitch from RepNup, a company that helps you check your Facebook history so you can clean it up before your employer or hopeful employer looks at it. I figured, what the heck, it’s free, so I’ll take a look at what comes back in my history. I live a pretty tame life–I’m in my 40s, I’m married, have 2 kids, and am the head of the children’s organization at church. So, yeah, I wasn’t concerned about what would come back. (And, professionally I counsel people on what not to put up in social media, so you’d think I should know to be careful!)

Anyway, RepNup came back with 5 questionable posts, 1 questionable share, and 2 questionable photos. I’m laughing so hard, I have to share. I realize this is not the normal reaction when people find out that their posts are “questionable.” So, here is my “questionable” Facebook activity. Go ahead and run yourself a RepNup report and post your favorite PG or G rated posts in the comments, and I will use some of them in an upcoming article. (You can post PG13 and above posts with the appropriate edits. No bad words or sexually explicit things or I’ll delete! My mom reads this blog.)

1. Got a great Evil HR Lady email today. Someone is terribly upset because she was “forced to resign” for sending nude “modeling” photos of herself to coworkers. I mean, how unfair is that????? Glad I’m not working the front lines of HR.

I’m sure this one was tagged because of the “nude modeling photos.” No, she didn’t send me the pictures. I don’t open attachments from people I don’t know anyway.

2. Got a mani/pedi last night. Before you get too jealous, it was done at the salon of [9 year old offspring] and [4 year old offspring]. [9 year old] did quite a good job on my toes–the big ones even have stars on them. [4 year old], however, needs a bit of work. So, if you see me today, I realize that it looks like I’ve just murdered someone with my bare hands, but it’s just [4 year old's] manicure job.

Guessing the phrase “murdered someone with my bare hands” set off the filter. As it should!

3. I forgot to report on a very important event from our vacation. When [Evil Marketing Man] went to check out of the hotel in Budapest, there was a very obnoxious American (or at least American accented) family checking out. The mom was throwing a fit about every little thing and basically being the perfect example of the “ugly American.” When they finally left the front desk clerk apologized to [Evil Marketing Man] for having to hear that and removed all of our breakfast costs from the bill to compensate for having to hear the crazy American woman.

When we boarded our train back to Austria, this same family was there. [Evil Marketing Man] wouldn’t let me go up and thank the lady for the discount on our hotel bill.

I’m not 100 percent sure on what triggered this one. “Ugly American”? “throwing a fit”? By the way, Budapest was lovely and the food was delicious.

4. Frequently, I will go with [10 year old offspring] to school, and then jog/walk home, while listening to podcasts on my Kindle Fire. This morning, against parental advice, [10 year old] took two Kindles with her. She’s allowed one at school and she knows she can’t have two. Consequence: No kindles at all.

If you are counting, you’ll realize that now I’m going to be running home, carrying three rather largish electronic devices. Plus, my headphones. The podcast today was from Freakonomics and was on suicide. As I neared my house, I have to go through a short tunnel under the train tracks. The sound changed substantially and I thought, hmmm, that’s funny. Why would a tunnel affect how I hear thing when it’s coming through head phones?

And because I’m pretty bright (if you exclude this event), I realized it wouldn’t change if it were coming through headphones, which means it wasn’t coming through headphones. I checked, and my headphones were not plugged in all the way.

Which means, I’m the crazy woman, running along the river, carrying 3 kindles and blasting an English podcast on suicide.

I apologize to the expat community for how I represent you all. At least everyone I passed (or who passed me!) has a good story to share.

I suppose the mention of suicide is what caused this to be tagged. And, in case you were wondering why my Offspring wanted 2 Kindles, they are on different accounts so they have different books. This is the child that we punish by forbidding her to read. She reads a lot.

5. Watched Annie tonight with the kids. I remember thinking it was a dumb story when I watched it at a slumber party at [friend's] house long ago. It is still dumb, and I don’t get why people love it. Explain, please!

This one, I can’t quite figure out. Are slumber parties considered bad? Are my career aspirations now finished????

As for the questionable photos, one was the one used to illustrate this article: How Will You Be Remembered? It’s of a naked statue used as a headstone. My artistic friends assure me that this is just art and not a rendition of the man buried beneath. I still say, not what I want on my tombstone. I’d worry about it, but since Inc, which is fairly respectable, was okay with using it, I’m not going to clean it from my Facebook profile.

The other “suspect” photo was taken in Tel Aviv, Israel. Before going to Israel I never knew circumcision graffiti existed. Now you do too!

grafittiAnd my questionable link? An article from that sketchy publication known as The New York Times: A Line Between Sweet and Skimpy.

So, now you know my deep dark secrets.

 

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

the gold digger March 27, 2014 at 2:42 pm

I have the highest-level privacy settings I can find, so I am wondering how a potential employer would even find me.

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Evil HR Lady March 29, 2014 at 5:27 pm

They probably wouldn’t. I think for people with established careers, it’s not as critical as for the straight out of school crowd.

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Maggie March 27, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Now I totally want to be friends with you on FB!

Here’s one of my posts that got flagged: So proud of myself for putting on my Big Girl Panties and driving in the snow today.

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Evil HR Lady March 29, 2014 at 5:28 pm

I’m proud of you for putting your Big Girl Panties on as well. I hate driving in the snow. Since we live in the land of public transportation, I haven’t driven in snow in 5 years!

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Elizabeth West March 27, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Haha!

I can’t run that scan because I’m at work (!), but I’m sure it would hit me quite hard. I repost a lot of crude humor on my Facebook (some of it from my friends, some from people I follow or people they follow). Plus there is a lot of marriage equality stuff from George Takei and my friends who are gay. And, I cuss a lot. :P

What I find most offensive and hide on my own feed is the extreme nationalist Christian fundamentalist junk. Some of my friends are walking a line, I tell you. Anything with that Duck guy on there is gone in seconds.

Food p0rn, however, is acceptable. :)

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Evil HR Lady March 29, 2014 at 5:29 pm

It really shocks me that you swear a lot.

George Takei is very funny.

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jdgalt March 28, 2014 at 4:18 am

Everyone can and should Google himself before job hunting. If there’s stuff out there you will probably see it.

If you do a *lot* of Internet posting I recommend using a pen name and not publicly linking it to your name anywhere.

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the gold digger March 29, 2014 at 4:42 pm

I have googled myself and discovered that I am a German wildlife biologist specializing in Carpathian wolves.

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Evil HR Lady March 29, 2014 at 5:34 pm

I actually already knew that about you! I thought it was obvious from your comments.

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Evil HR Lady March 29, 2014 at 5:33 pm

I, on the other hand, have the complete opposite philosophy. I only say that which I am willing to stand behind, so I use my name.

There is one mom’s group that I post at that I have a user name, but everyone there knows my real name because I post my articles.

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Vicki March 28, 2014 at 6:53 am

If you intend to Google yourself, log out first and clear the cache in the browser, or ask a friend to Google you. The results will be different coming from your own browser.

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Evil HR Lady March 29, 2014 at 5:35 pm

This is true! I do that every once in a while, but strictly for vanity reasons.

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Some Guy March 28, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Employers need to buzz off sometimes. I don’t care what HR types -washed up HS bimbos, busy bodies, pedants, and airheads mostly- who know nothing about the sectors in which they recruit think. They are insane Google stalkers.

Outside of not hiring murderers and violent criminals, uptight employers should lay off and not monitor every 10 year old college drinking photo or silly, harmless nonsense most people share with friends. Is there a min/max number of puppy photos that are acceptable? Am I ‘liking’ the right sports team?? Are there any political no-nos? Liking Ron Paul will get someone fired/not hired?

Personally, my page is pretty G-rated, and I don’t talk politics or religion on it. I mostly tease my nieces and nephews and post about sports, cartoons,music, and puppies.

I keep mine non searchable, but don’t care what anyone thinks about it. I’m a human being who has value outside of the workplace. I have self respect. I wish more people didn’t cower to employers.

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Evil HR Lady March 29, 2014 at 5:40 pm

I absolutely agree that employers shouldn’t go digging. But, I also think a quick google search to make sure there isn’t something really horrible out there that will embarrass the company is a good thing.

People need to lighten up.

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Brian March 30, 2014 at 6:04 pm

For the 5th one, I believe the word “dumb,” which appears twice, might have triggered the filter. You don’t want employers thinking you’re judgmental, especially calling other things or people dumb, stupid, etc. because you “don’t get why people love it”!

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Evil HR Lady April 1, 2014 at 8:17 am

I actually asked the people at RepNup and you nailed it! It was the double dumb. I stand behind what I said, however–Annie is dumb. Although my sister says I’m just bitter because my mom made me get an Annie hair cut when I was in 4th grade. It was unpleasant.

The Hungary story was because of the phrase “ugly American.”

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azvlr April 1, 2014 at 8:14 am

I ran the scan last night and haven’t gotten back any results. How long did y’all have to wait for yours to come back?

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Evil HR Lady April 1, 2014 at 8:17 am

Mine took about 12 hours. I guess the time it takes depends on how much you have on Facebook!

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Naomi April 3, 2014 at 11:35 am

So after several days I got my scan back and it proved that it’s very puritanical. I like wine, not in a wino, drink it out of the bottle, can’t function without it way but in a it’s nice after work and/or with dinner. Repnup says no. Any mention of wine, any picture with alcohol in the picture it’s highlighted.

Also my blog is suspicious and things like ‘Damn Taylor Swift and her catchiness’

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Evil HR Lady April 3, 2014 at 11:56 am

You can’t, apparently, insult Annie or Taylor Swift.

Actually, I think it’s good that they have more false positives. That allows you to evaluate whether or not you care if it gets out.

Clearly, I didn’t care.

And I secretly hope angry American woman in the Budapest hotel sees this, recognizes herself, and feels bad for being a jerk. But, she won’t.l

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Vicki May 3, 2014 at 8:54 am

I ran mine, looked at it, and said “my goodness, this algorithm doesn’t like anything.”

Added my MBTI® Certification to my LinkedIn profile. W00t! (Suspicious status)

https://www.facebook.com/584282890/posts/10152222114797891 (Suspicious photo)

Horned owls actually look a lot like Maine Coon cats when you see them sitting on a branch at dusk. hoHOOHoohoo (meow) (Suspicious link)

Also, never use the word Hell (even to share a status from Clients from Hell) or damn, darn, WTH… and never mention alcohol not ever.

If a recruiter, HR rep, or manager is as puritanical as RepNUp, I don’t want to work there.

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Lior Tal May 5, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Hi Naomi,
Thanks for the feedback. There are 2 points I’d like to make. One, the technology we developed at RepNup to detect and to flag text and images related to alcohol, violence, inappropriate language and so on is not because WE decided that you should remove it but rather because surveys have shown that recruiters and employers are negatively affected when seeing such content on candidate’s social media.
Two, all RepNup is doing is flag out the items which might harm your reputation. We do not decide for you what to keep, what to remove and what to change privacy for. It is your decision.
Personally, I think that if they know that a potential employer might not hire them (rightfully or not) because of such content, most job seekers will change their social media content. At the end of the day, when you need to get a job and pay the bills, many people will do much more than fix their social media content to win a job.

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samccrory April 3, 2014 at 5:43 pm

OK, I did this – it took 8 days (requested 3/27; received 4/3) to get my report back.

I have just as hard a time taking this report as it appears you did – first, they spell “suspicious” as “suspecious”. Second, every single “suspecious” status is, in my mind, not at all questionable – unless, I guess, I was applying for jobs that require me to be a teetotaler (anything that referred to alcohol, or even check-ins at places that serve alcohol). Any time I used the words “kill”, “shoot”, “WTF”, “WTH”, or similar were also deemed “suspecious”. Status updates I thought SHOULD have been questionable (references to my job, in not always flattering terms) weren’t flagged at all. So I’m not sure how useful this tool actually is.

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Evil HR Lady April 9, 2014 at 11:24 am

Well, I can see the reason behind all of those. It can’t detect meaning, just key words ( I suppose) and too many WTF and Kills could make you look “suspecious.” (They said they were correcting that, by the way!)

I agree–I think it’s not terribly helpful for the responsible adult who isn’t posting pictures of themselves using marijuana. And those people who are doing that, are probably too stupid to run the report.

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Lior Tal April 4, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Hi everyone, my name is Lior Tal and I am one of the co-founders of the RepNup service. First, thank you all for trying the service and/or commenting on it. Some of the feedback helped us as we are still in beta testing.
Second, I apologize to everyone who did not get their report yet. We did not anticipate such load of users and we are doing our best to upgrade our processing capabilities to finish reports ASAP.
Third, our service is not trying to determine what is right and what is wrong. We try to detect and point out things that might be viewed negatively by a potential employer, by current employer, by a potential date or by a college admission officer (for college applicants).
Our analysis is based on machine learning algorithms that profile a user based on what they write, comment, like and share and how their profile compares to the rest of the population. This allows us to detect tendencies of users and their strength compared with others.
We further use advanced computer vision technologies to detect suspected images that relate to alcohol, violence, sex, drugs etc.
We based our decision to provide user with information based on many surveys and researches about what potential employers and current employers, recruiters, dates and others might think of a user when they review his/her social media activities.
For example, a survey from http://www.jobvite.com in 2014 found that 65% of recruiters are negatively affected when seeing profanity on candidate’s social media. This is why the service flags when detecting words such as WTH, WTF, stupid etc. after calculating that in the context of the text, they might have negative impact.
According to the same survey 47% of recruiters are negatively affected by reference of alcohol.
Now, the important point, again, is that we provide a list of potentially (“Suspicious” and thanks samccrory for the correction) reputation damaging items. Each user has the right and should decide for himself/herself what is right for him to keep, remove or change privacy settings so only friends or other groups can see. At the end of the day, every user needs to decide what they want others to think of them.
Lastly, I’d welcome any comments, requests and recommendations. My email address is liort@RepNup.net. And, if there’s anyone who needs their social reputation report ASAP because they are seeking new employment or applying to college (or event if they are dating) and want it ASAP, please email me personally and I’ll do my best to see that your reports are urgently handled.
Evil HR Lady, thank you for allowing me to comment on your blog.

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Kara April 8, 2014 at 10:34 pm

I did this, and it took nearly two weeks to get my report back. Most of my posts that it said were suspicious were politically themed, but some of the others ranged from:
“Okay, I’m all caught up on Game of Thrones. Since season 4 doesn’t start till next year, I may have to kill time by reading the series. I hear the little blonde twit king dies at some point, and I’m not sure I can wait till next year for that to happen..”

to

“Final grades have posted, I’m officially graduated. Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in Human Resource Management. w00t.”

to

“Dear Obnoxious Woman Sitting Beside Me in Starbucks, Your ringtone is annoying. So is the volume at which you choose to speak to the people who are calling you. Additionally, who needs to wear that much perfume, at 3pm, while wearing tennis shoes and sweats. I can’t even smell the coffee, which is half the reason I’m here. Go away. Sincerely, Trying to Work and Hoping Your Laptop Dies Soon”

It also tagged a comment I posted on a picture of my daughter playing a game of Jenga. I was asked how high my kids could stack them, and replied, “Lol amazingly high…Lizzie is actually really freakin good, if you’ll believe that…” So apparently RepNUp thinks I’m a pot head now. Another comment I made on a picture someone posted of me when I didn’t want a picture taken was, “Drat…next time i must do a better job of hiding…” Sooo…’drat’ is a bad word?

All in all, it reviewed a little over four years of my Facebook usage and came up with 24 posts, 5 comments, 19 shares, and 3 images that were ‘suspicious.’ Zero ‘likes,’ because I avoid trying to like things, so I guess that’s good. I suppose it could be useful to some, but the time it takes to get the report back and their really tight qualifications for ‘suspicious’ material would deter some.

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Evil HR Lady April 9, 2014 at 11:22 am

Well, I certainly wouldn’t hire anyone who admits to a degree in Human Resources! :)

The other ones I can see the reason for the flag. Better to be oversensitive than under sensitive, but i’m not sure the tool is super helpful. Funny, but not super helpful.

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Vicki May 3, 2014 at 8:56 am

Yup. “Drat” and “Darn”. And W00t (I was hit with that one too).

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