Facebook isn’t as innocuous as it was when it first started. Now, potential employers are known to check on job applicants’ profiles before make hiring decisions. Needless to say, most people have a few pictures they’d rather their boss not see. (Remember that spring break in Miami?) However, it’s not as easy as it should be to delete your content.
Jennifer Golbeck of Slate tried to do just that. She set out to delete everything on her Facebook profile that was over a month old. Having joined Facebook back in 2005, that is a lot of content. Of course you can deactivate your profile, but that still doesn’t really get rid of your content because it’s still floating around in the gray spaces of Facebook. The only way to truly get rid of your content via Facebook, Golbeck discovered, is to delete each item from your activity log one by one. Every. Single. Item.
Even then, there are some things that will remain. Anything you ever “liked” has to be unliked in order to be removed. You cannot delete the notification of you becoming friends with someone else, but you can hide it from your activity log.
However, there are two applications on the market that can automate the process: Absterge and Facebook Timeline Cleaner. The only problem with those is, you don’t have much selection over what gets deleted. You can select the type of posts you want to delete or the time frame. Still, Goldbeck noted that certain items she deleted would come up again, leaving one to wonder if posts on Facebook ever truly die.
So be careful with what you share on Facebook. As online personas spill over into different facets of our lives, it will become increasingly important to tailor our various social networking profiles. And in the case of Facebook, it seems you can’t make any mistakes because they may haunt you forever.