Website Review: Socioclean

February 24, 2011


Last week I stumbled across the website Socioclean, “a free service that enables you to monitor and clean your online social profile by analysing your wall posts, status messages and photos for any ill-advised and inappropriate material that may harm your social reputation”. Currently the site only works for Facebook, though other social networking sites are apparently in the pipeline. The idea was born out of a 2009 Harris Interactive study for, which is referenced on the Socioclean blog, which found that 45% of employers questioned had screened potential job candidates via social networking sites, and 35% had decided not to offer a job based on what they found.

Now, I’m not in the market for a new job, and I’m not generally worried about my social networking profiles, but slap “evaluation” on something and I’m game (and, admittedly, I was curious to see how it worked). I was pretty confident that I would be awarded a good score – nothing less than an A please – since I take good care regarding what gets posted on my profiles. So you can imagine my dismay when the results of my profile scan indicated that the possibility someone would see inappropriate content when browsing my profile was “severe” and I was awarded a “reputation grade” of F – what about my A?

My “reputation evaluation summary” gave more details about the different categories of offence, the worst being “sexual” at almost 57% of incidences, followed by 24% of incidences for “alcohol/drugs”, 13% for “aggression”, and minor offences for “racial” and “profanity”. Really? 57%? What were all these sexually inappropriate comments that I had overlooked? Then it dawned on me that a recent wall discussion of the Icelandic Phallological Museum could be at fault (and here also lies the very tenuous link as to how this blog post is museum related^^) – until I read the full report.

It turns out that the majority of “sexual” comments were friends showing me their love by signing their messages with xXx, as well as a description of my son’s eyelashes as “lush” (which, btw, is using the word in its original meaning), and, strangely, a question about whether the cat I was holding in a photo would “poo on people’s veggie patches”, which, if anything, I would have expected under “profanity” and not under “sexual” (and, in case you were wondering, no, the cat doesn’t). Similarly, the high score for “alcohol/drugs” was not as bad as it looked at first glance. Without exception, ever single incidence was due to use of the word “Dank”. But we weren’t discussing the use of moist marijuana, as I have since learned is its slang definition. Far from it. I’m German. I have German Facebook friends. It’s how we say thank you!

The “aggression” score was made up of a porridge “explosion” in the microwave, my brother “killing” his computer, a friend discovering how “dead” easy it was to play the ukulele, and my observation that the dinosaurs are “dead” (which they are). Which only left “racial” (quickly explained away by some new year’s greetings starting with “hey ho…”), and “profanity”, where I have to hold up my hand for saying “damn you” to the Smallville script writers – well, they did have to go and end Season 1 on a cliffhanger, didn’t they! So, after closer analysis, the F didn’t seem as bad as it had looked, with really only two genuine offences – the rather oddly placed “poo” question, and my frustrated “damn” at the tricks of television producers. What the socioclean scan had missed, however, was the only genuinely rude comment about whether the Phallological Museum was “full of old cocks”!

But, to be fair, it’s a new service, and while there is no doubt that it obviously needs some improvement (and they are committed to making user feedback part of the design process, asking you to complete a short survey to suggest improvements after you’ve used the service), if you put the teething problems aside it’s a good idea. Socioclean doesn’t auto-delete anything, so it’s up to you what you do with the information from the report. And you can edit your report, either choosing to ignore single instances or all instances of a word – e.g. after selecting to ignore any misinterpreted instances of ho, lush, dead, and explosion, and assigning  “xXx” and “Dank” to the list of words to always ignore, a new scan gave me the A I had been anticipating. Presumably the more often you edit, the more accurate future scans will be.

Of course, it would be even better if people were more thoughtful about what they posted in the first place – Socioclean won’t pick up on those potentially embarrassing drunk photos that people seem to like to post – and were a bit more vigilant with their privacy settings (unless one of my friends was considering hiring me, potential employers wouldn’t even be able to see my Facebook profile as I’ve set it to the highest possible privacy settings and only accept friend requests from people I actually know). But Facebook admittedly doesn’t make it easy, with their frequent change of rules, and other social networks, such as Twitter, leave content much more open. Speaking of security settings, Socioclean doesn’t store any personal information, you can only use it on your own account, and the reports aren’t stored, they only last as long as your session does. So, it’s definitely a service with potential. Why don’t you go and give it a try!


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