Just How Offensive Is Your Facebook Profile?

by Sarah Kessler

This article originally appeared on MASHABLE.

Name: Socioclean

Quick Pitch: Socioclean crawls through your Facebook profile photos, groups and wall posts, and alerts you to anything inappropriate.

Genius Idea: In a 2009 Harris Interactive study for CareerBuilder.com, 45% of employers questioned had used social networks to screen job candidates. Thirty-five percent of them decided not to hire a candidate based on what they found.

When this study started to generate press, Priyanshu Harshavat started to think about a way to help job candidates get their social profiles in shape before they were virtually audited by potential employers. The result is Socioclean, a program that scans social profiles for 5,000 words and phrases that are racial, profane, drug-related or alcohol-related.

After a user gives permission for the program to assess his Facebook profile (for now Socioclean is only offered for Facebook — other social networks are on the way), he receives a letter grade and a list of inappropriate items from his profile. Each item has a link to that item on Facebook so that he can easily delete it.

As a generally inoffensive person, I was shocked at how many flagged terms that Socioclean dug up from my profile. Wall messages left by other people were my biggest offense (I got demerits for “beer,” “booze cone” and “hell,” among others). The program also reminded me about the “Aaron Burr, you son of a b**ch” group I had joined sometime during my freshman year of college. I posted one mildly offensive status message to my profile before testing the program, naively thinking that it wouldn’t have much to find otherwise, and it found that as well. Most of my infractions were things that I would never have noticed, and many were innocent — discussing about a bon “fire,” for instance, was flagged as “aggressive.” But it definitely didn’t miss anything. There were enough flags to earn an overall grade of a “D.”

Businesses like Reputation.com and Brand-Yourself also help polish online reputations, but these startups are taking an SEO approach that helps push down negative and pull up positive search results for your name. Socioclean is the only service we know of that focuses on deleting offensive items from your social profiles.

About 5,000 other people and I have run our profiles through the program at no cost. To help make it profitable, the company is currently courting job website and dating website partners. The hope is to offer a social profile scrub as an option to applicants and daters to make them more successful on their respective online services. Socioclean’s developers also created a version of the product for employers who want their employees to self-monitor their social profiles.

Yet another potential revenue source is to sell site licenses to universities to use in their career services departments. Some universities have already expressed interest in helping spruce up their graduates’ online resumes — Syracuse University, for instance, purchased subscriptions to Brand-Yourself for 4,100 of its graduating seniors.

Even if schools decide to teach students to set their Facebook privacy settings instead of similarly embracing Socioclean, there are likely enough situations in which a squeaky clean profile is necessary — college applications, job applications, dating and professional networking included — to keep Socioclean in business.


Image courtesy of iStockphotothesuperph.


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