You ultimately can’t erase everything online, but you can make it less public facing. Here are simple ways to clean up your social media accounts.
There are many reasons for wanting to clean up your online persona: applying for jobs, maintaining your reputation, trying to establish a new personal brand, or wanting to keep the past in the past. For all these reasons and more, it’s important to periodically clean up your social media accounts.
Not that I had a lot to clean up, but I started to consider my digital footprint when I had to apply for my first round of co-op jobs. It was then when I learned that recruiters and managers ‘Google you’ to verify your credentials or to check your public behaviour.
Here are some of the tips I’ve picked up along the way to determine what to make private or what to share on social media.
Change your privacy settings.
This is one of the easiest ways to hide your posts and profile. There are work-arounds, but everything is fairly hidden.
Remove old statuses or posts.
On Twitter, you can do an advanced search to look for specific keywords or phrases from specific accounts, in this case, yours. This works well if you know there are certain Tweets you want to remove. Here are Facebook setting options to delete, hide or limit who sees old posts. There are also paid programs you can use to delete posts published before a certain date or to manage old posts.
Consider making new accounts.
Sometimes it’s best to have a fresh start. If you can delete your old profile that’s obviously more ideal, but another option is setting your profile to private and directing people to your new account.
Make sure your accounts match.
A recruiter once shared with me the first thing she does when she gets a resume: she checks to see if the candidate’s resume matches their LinkedIn profile. She found that a lot of people embellished on their resume, but kept their true credentials on LinkedIn since it’s public. I try to align my profiles so that if you visit me on Instagram or Twitter, you know it’s the same person. I’m lucky my name isn’t common, but if you share your name with a lot of people, this could be very important in establishing your validity.
Think before posting.
There’s no time to change like the present! Start practicing good habits now. Before I post something, I ask myself, “what would my grandma think if she saw my post?” or “would I be satisfied seeing this post on the front page of a newspaper?” If I have any hesitation, I think twice about sharing.
At the end of the day, we were all young once (wow, I sound old saying that) and I believe it will only get more complicated as social media continues to evolve. My parents didn’t have to worry about mistakes they made when they were younger being documented online, and Facebook started to gain popularity when I was in grade 10. It’ll be tough for the generations that have social media integrated into their entire life, so we can’t entirely hold it against them. I feel lucky that most of my awkward, teen years aren’t fully documented on the Internet. Mind you, I do have my fair share of photos with cryptic lyrics as the captions, haha…