In the ever-evolving community of social networking, reputations formed in the digital environment are encroaching more on professional lives.
With a hovering uncertainty about what is acceptable and what is not, the tech company Socioclean has stepped forward to give students a tool to keep their online personas ready to be scrutinized.
The company created a program that users can employ regularly to scan their social profiles for content considered inappropriate or unprofessional.
The Socioclean team began work on the program in June, and started beta testing in November, said Priyanshu Harshavat, founder and CEO of Socioclean.
Socioclean released the program in October.
The process of using Socioclean is straightforward and the service is free.
Users give Socioclean access to their APIs, which are files that social networking sites keep in their data banks. Harshavat said. With the collected data, the user is now free to clean up his or her profile to whatever extent he or she deems necessary.
The API files record and store all of an individual’s profile information to display upon login.
The Socioclean program scans these files, searching for keywords that fall under a given category, such as profanity or aggression.
The keywords it searches for are phrases the Socioclean programmers determined to be inappropriate, but these phrases can also be altered to fit a user’s specific need.
“We do not do any kind of behind the scene manipulation to get the data,” Harshavat said.
After the program has scanned the profile information, it compiles the data into a simple document that grades the profiles based on appropriateness. The program provides a percentage breakdown of the different areas that contributed to the user’s overall grade. These areas include profanity, aggression and drugs. The program also shows where specifically on the profile the information was collected.
To start the company, Harshavat used a business incubator, which is a social program that supports emerging entrepreneurial companies with resources, services and a network of contacts.
“We wanted to actually leverage the incubator in terms of student resources and contacts,” Harshavat said.
He used these tools to build the stand-alone company that already has more than 9,000 active users, according to Jake Hurd, director of marketing and communication for Socioclean.
“One of the first things I did was look over my Facebook to make sure it was clean, but you never really know what your friends are going to post,” said Logan Scholz, an engineering junior who has recently begun hunting for internships and job opportunities.
The idea for the program came out of the rise of social networking sites in the corporate world, where managers have started paying attention to their company’s brand on various sites, such as Twitter or Facebook, Harshavat said.
A digital brand is how a given company is presented on social networking sites; companies scan these social sites for mention of their company’s names and review evaluations or comments made about their companies.
“Everyone then was concentrating on getting brand management around companies, on Twitter and Facebook, but there was nothing that was concentrating on personal brand,” Harshavat said.
Many students worry about the effect their social network profiles will have as they look for jobs in an already tightly-strapped, highly-competitive market.
“The program is really useful because it gives you a concise breakdown of what is happening on your Facebook,” said business marketing junior Karen Enters after using Socioclean to scan her social profile.
A study by CareerBuilder.com reported that 45 percent of employers use social networking sites when looking into job candidates, and that top companies were more likely to do so.
With the information garnered from this research, hiring managers evaluated hiring factors ranging from how employees handled confidential information to their communication skills.
At this time, Socioclean is a self-funded company, though it intends to get funding through advertisements in time.
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