New ‘Clear’ app helps you erase your online mistakes and offensive posts
Former Jeb Bush staffer, Ethan Czahor, at the tender age of 31 was hired to be Chief Technology Officer of Jeb Bush’s US presidential campaign.
It was pleasant while it lasted, which was about 36 hours.
That’s the amount of time it took the reporters and opposition researchers to get into the intertubes and remove some of his past posts and jokes – one about Halloween being a holiday created for women to get dressed like “sluts”, another about it being OK to burp at the gym so that the gay men know he’s straight, along with another post written in his college days in which he admired Martin Luther King for not wearing his pants “sagged to his ankles”.
He resigned in February.
Czahor asserts that the tweets and posts were just bad jokes, taken out of circumstances from a time when he was studying improv comedy in Los Angeles.
He is not the first person to ever lose a job – or never get one offered – because of undesirable posts that he (like many of us) should have gone back and erased when we were sensible/older/thinking of going into politics.
But in contrast to most of us, he is doing something to help others in this same set of circumstances.
Need to get relieved from of all those ill mannered, vulgar, rebellious posts that are following you like Bob Marley’s chains?
Thanks to Czahor’s past posts catching up to him, there’s an app for that now.
The beta version of Czahor’s “Clear” iOS app launched on Monday looks through the user’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for possible inflammatory posts and gives users the choice of erasing them, if possible.
It’s a lot easier than painstakingly reading through one’s own years worth of posts, he told Business Insider:
When I first saw my name in the news, I thought ‘Jeez, I better check and make sure I’m good to go,’ because, you know, I had told jokes in the past and wanted to be in the clear on all that stuff.
But it’s not easy to do, and I couldn’t find the tool that would do it for you. For me to vet myself, I would have to go to Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, and just scroll down and scroll down through everything and keep reading it – and it’s a real pain in the butt.
Czahor told Time that the app is meant to ensure that people are in command of the matter they have posted online.
That should come in handy with his peers, given that people his age have been raised in the era of “batten the hatches, man the torpedoes and post it ALL!!”, he said:
This could happen to anyone in any field—it doesn’t have to be politics—every millennial is now entering the workforce, and maybe even a senior position, and everything that they’ve said online for the last 10 years is still there, and that’s a new thing for this generation.
The app searches posts thoroughly, looking for catchwords. That not only includes obscene language, but it also signals words such as “gay”, the N word, or words possibly suggestive of groups, such as “Americans” or “black.”
The Clear app also uses IBM’s Watson supercomputer to carry out emotion analysis, signaling additional negative communication. Yes, this is the same supercomputer that defeated humans playing Jeopardy in 2011.
The app’s algorithms reportedly make a mistake on the side of danger. Czahor told Business Insider that the current app does, in fact, signals more than it needs to, but he found out that it is suitable to allow anything to slide through the cracks.
On analyzing of Time’s Zeke J. Miller’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, he scored a -2,404- a record low in the private beta, Miller said.
As of Friday, there was a waiting list for the beta that was running in thousands, though you can push yourself ahead in the queue if you post about the app.
According to reports by Miller, the Clear app uses a ownership grading system that determines the potential responsibility of a person’s social media history.
He said that quotes from presidential candidates is one of the reason for his own low rating, which is regularly scored as negative, while words on the watch list triggered alerts.
Czahor told Time that Clear app will soon be changed into a traditional 0-100 scale, with maximum scores showing safer profiles.
Czahor says that after he gets analysis of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram postings down, he’ll move on to additional social networks, emails, personal blogs, and search results.
Anything with an API can be added very easily, but we want to make sure we get really good at the current three before we expand.
There are warnings, of course. This tool is unable to stop people from seizing screen captures of postings, nor does this tool assures to reach into digital archives to delete anything.
In fact, Sony, is a good example. According to the announcement made by WikiLeaks last week, it states that it published thousands of documents and emails that has supposedly come from the Sony breach.
What posted online typically stays online somewhere; however, it can work its way to resurface sooner or later if someone wants to search it very badly. It can not only work its way to the surface, it can be put into a handy searchable archive a la WikiLeaks.
Having a “Clear” history may sound appealing, however, it is probably safe to presume that if we have left embarrassing digital tracks, “Cloudy” is a more likely prediction.
It’s best not to upload material at all than to post it and then pray that an app can delete or erase it.
You can download the Clear App for your iPhone/iPad from here.