Picture the scene — you wake up fuzzy-headed after a few drinks, grab your phone, and discover you’ve said something horrendous and offensive on the internet. Do you own up to it, apologize, try to grow as a person? Or do you download an app that will search through your entire archive of social media posts and comments to remove anything that could one day land you in trouble?
If you choose the latter — or if you’re new Daily Show host Trevor Noah — you might be interested in new iOS app Clear. The app connects to your social media accounts, using an algorithm to search for both directly offensive content like swear words, and references to racial groups or sexual orientation. Once the search is complete, users get a breakdown of how “clear” they are. Any offensive posts can be deleted on the spot, rendering their profiles safe for searching by friends, future romantic partners, or employers.
The app’s creator was fired from Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign
The app is the brainchild of Ethan Czahor, a man more experienced than most with the kind of offensive comments his app is trying to delete. Earlier this year, Czahor was appointed as chief technology officer for Jeb Bush during his presidential campaign. It was his “dream job,” but thanks to a checkered internet history, he didn’t last long in the role. Buzzfeed uncovered a series of tweets posted from his account that referred to women as “sluts” and made homophobic references. The Huffington Post also discovered that while working as the host of “The Ethan Show” at East Stroudsburg University, Czahor had written a personal statement that registered his dissatisfaction for affirmative action programs, told black parents to “get their sh@# together” because “the majority of newborn black babies belong to single-parent households,” and praised the “well-spoken” Martin Luther King for not having “his pants sagged to his ankles.”
Ironically, Czahor’s new app wouldn’t have saved his job. The app currently only scrubs posts from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, while one of it’s creator’s screeds was unearthed on his own website, via internet archiving tool The Wayback Machine. Perhaps a better idea would be to avoid posting offensive and derogatory comments on the internet at all, rather than having to rely on an app to clean your public record. If you decide you still need an algorithm to tell you when you’re saying awful things, you might have to hold on for a while — Clear currently has a waiting list.