Yes, Your Dirty Mouth Online Can Cost You Your Job
It may have been just a little over a week since its launch, but YourDirtyMouth.com, which filters the most offensive posts from users' Facebook profiles, has already created a bit of buzz, catching the eyes of both Business Insider and Yahoo! after catching fire on Reddit.
"We created the app because we wanted to see (and laugh at) all of the regrettable stuff we've ever said on Facebook (there was a lot)," said co-founder Edoardo Conti. "After seeing how much all of our close friends enjoyed the app we decided to share it with people outside of our circle of friends, aka reddit."
Conti, along with fellow Rutgers graduates Dan Palumbo and Mariusz Lapinski, former USC Trojan Shashwat Patel and SUNY Binghamton alum Jim Spinosa put together the web app just a few weekends ago.
The site connects to users' Facebook accounts and displays all the "controversial" posts they've made (through statuses, photo comments, etc.), but people have found it useful for reasons beyond a quick laugh.
"At first we were going strictly for humor," Conti said, "but after our one friend saw all of the offensive things he had said on Facebook we quickly realized the value of adding an easy delete feature. A lot of people have said our app has helped them clean up their Facebook profiles so our app has definitely gone beyond just humor."
If the Dirty Mouth app has prompted consciousness about the way in which people act online, it has done so at a time that a few of the nation's biggest media outlets have tried to do so as well.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal featured an article about the prospect of bosses showing bias towards job candidates whose Facebook profiles have been viewed. Just a few weeks before, the New York Times featured this self-explanatory article titled, "They loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets."
Both outlets confirmed what some may have thought to be a myth: the fact that, in some cases, the information that people display online can have a significant impact on their success upon handing in their next application.
For instance, the Wall Street Journal's report, which was written by Jennifer Valentino-Devries, found that more than a third of the near thousand human-resource workers they surveyed in the US consult social-networking sites during the hiring process "at least some of the time."
"It's human nature to search," said longtime human-resources executive Rusty Rueff. "We want to fill in the blanks."
Meanwhile, the New York Times' report, written by Natasha Singer, found that colleges are willing to take a student's social media presence into account when considering admissions, in a variety of situations.
For example, the article tells the story of a high school student who attends a campus information session for prospective students at Bowdoin College in Maine.
"Throughout the presentation, she apparently posted disparaging comments on Twitter about her fellow attendees," Singer stated, "repeatedly using a common expletive."
The school ultimately denied admission from the student because of her lack of credentials, but officials at the institution still say that had her application been up to par, her actions online would make them question the student's fit for Bowdoin.
“We would have wondered about the judgment of someone who spends their time on their mobile phone and makes such awful remarks,” said Scott Meiklejohn, dean of admissions and financial aid at Bowdoin College.
Both reports put long-held bits of conventional wisdom in perspective.
Many users of social media might have already been told that they should watch what they say online, simply because, with the click of the mouse, employers have the ability see what the users wouldn't want them to. What these articles show, however, is that such an event actually occurring is not simply a worst case scenario.
Companies, and schools for that matter, can and will look at potential candidates' profiles, more often than many might have thought.
The reports, then, may as well give aspiring professionals (i.e. young people) just another reason to buy into to the "watch what you say" mantra and clean up their profiles. And if they don't, at least the Dirty Mouth app will be there to offer help. Whether it will do so in time is another question.