Every flagged post gets an assessment of its potential impact in the eyes of employers, and an option to excise it from your feed. The site also offers tools for juicing your personal brand (mine is Very Weak) by tweaking your profiles on Linked In, Twitter, Medium and the like. If you don’t want to do it, Brand Yourself will do it for a fee. (The basic service is free, but there’s lots of up-selling. For this article, Brand Yourself supplied me with a premium membership worth $99 a year).

The site also dinged me for posting 39 potentially inappropriate images, including many, many photos of myself and friends holding pints of beer (in my defense, I lived in London for four years). While the image-scanning software is distressingly accurate, it’s not perfect. It flagged a photo of my daughter with a glass of orange juice as containing a mixed drink, and a pair of elegant Chinese vases I photographed at Sotheby’s were labeled “drug bongs.” In another photo, my son was accused of flipping me the bird (he wasn’t). Fortunately, the site lets users remove innocent images from their dossier of shame.

But ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether I correct the record on Brand Yourself’s site if the software used by future employers find those images and draw their own, incorrect, conclusions. It doesn’t matter if the software is in error, or if there’s a perfectly good explanation. There’s no appeals process when an HR department, looking to thin its applicant pool from a few thousand to a few dozen, decides to use a questionable social media history as a filter.

The solution for the ultra-cautious is simply to take down any post or image, no matter now innocuous, and that’s a shame. When we purge our social media of photos of weddings and kids birthdays because of a stray champagne flute and glass of juice, we bowdlerize our own pasts. Social media, and Facebook particularly, has flourished in the last decade because it’s a rich document of our lives we share with our friends. Editing our pasts to meet the school-marmish standards of future employers risks turning our online lives into documents as bland and tasteless as a resume.

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