It may be time to rewrite your social media history

Brian J. O'Connor
Detroit News Finance Editor

Did things get a little heated on your social media feed during — and especially after — the recent quadrennial electoral unpleasantness? It could keep you out of your next job.

Donald Trump might have gotten the only CEO job in America where the hiring managers looked past his vitriolic online rants, but other job-seekers won’t be so lucky. More and more, an ill-tempered tweet or a Facebook f-bomb is enough to disqualify you from a job.

According to an April survey by the job site CareerBuilder, 60 percent of employers comb social networking sites to research job candidates. Of those, 46 percent said they’d reject a candidate if they find “provocative” photos, videos or information, 43 percent object to information about drinking or drugs, and 33 percent said they’d reject a candidate for, “Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc.”

An offensive social media post cannot only keep you out of a job, it can cost you the one you’ve already landed. Just last month in Georgia, Jane Wood Allen, a Forsyth County Schools paraprofessional, was canned after a Facebook post in which she called first lady Michelle Obama a “gorilla.”

You’re fired!

If you’re considering sanitizing your social media history, it can be a daunting task. You have to deal with not only your own posts, but also those of others where you commented or where someone tagged you. Early adopters of Facebook may need to go back as far as a decade to find that photo of your brotastic frat party keg-stand you need to delete.

Since the internet caused this problem, tech entrepreneurs naturally see a business opportunity in fixing it. ReputationDefender starts at $3,000 a year for hands-on help scrubbing your online mentions. There’s also and other services, such as BrandYourself and Social U, that provide a free scan of your accounts, then charge to help clean them up.

Another is, which just added political screening to its scans for profanity, drugs, alcohol, check-ins at strip clubs and other potentially embarrassing posts made by you or your connections. The scan is free and users can pay $15 for 48-hour access to tools that will help them clean up problematic posts, or $30 for a year subscription, says founder Ryan Angilly.

Angilly added political screening to the mix based on the flaring tempers on his own social media pages.

“My hunch was mainly from seeing all the vitriol on my own Facebook page and on Twitter, and it turned out to be spot-on,” Angilly says. “We reached out to our free customers and the overwhelming response was that people were looking for political searching, as well.”

It’s a yuge problem

Not all social media information hurts your job hunt. According to the CareerBuilder survey, about one-third of employers who review social media found information that prompted them to hire an applicant, such as, “Candidate’s personality came across as a good fit with company culture.”

And it’s not just college kids making the switch to a career who need to worry about their online past. Increasingly, even middle-aged professionals find themselves haunted by their posts.

It’s even hitting job-hunters applying to join the Trump administration. According to CNN, the Trump transition team’s vetting of potential administration hires includes “scouring potential appointees’ social media accounts.” Some people were weeded out for having been publicly critical of Trump in the past.


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Twitter: @BrianOCTweet

Brian O’Connor is author of “The $1,000 Challenge: How One Family Slashed Its Budget Without Moving Under a Bridge or Living on Government Cheese.”