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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Gift for grads: Digital clean-up service

Looking cool — or stupid?

Getting ready for college now means cleaning up your online image, writes Taylor Lorenz on Mashable.

Many high school seniors have been online for years, focused on impressing their friends, not admissions officers or employers.

Thirty-five percent of college admissions officers say they check applicants’ social media postings, according to a Kaplan Test Prep survey. “Of those, 42 percent said that what they found had a negative impact on the student’s application,” reports Lorenz.

Recently, Harvard revoked the acceptance letters of 10 students after discovering they had posted offensive memes to a Facebook group chat. . . . (BrandYourself) recently launched a new “Student Makeover” product aimed at high schoolers’ worried parents. Billed as “the perfect graduation gift,” the service promises to surface and remove risky online references to sex, alcohol, drugs, politics, religion, and more for $99, according to the website. . . . The software then scours thousands of old posts and uses a machine learning algorithm to pull up the ones that may be deemed problematic. Students and their parents can then evaluate the old posts and choose whether or not to delete the content.

Some students adopt a “senior name” at the start of 12th grade to shield their real identity from admissions officers and employers, reports Lorenz. Others create “ghost” profiles “that they use to share questionable material online.”

Finstas, secondary Instagram accounts, let teens share more personal material with a smaller, tightly monitored group of friends,” writes Lorenz.

Students should continue to be careful about their online image through college. Some day, they’ll be looking for a job.

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