Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How to Clean Up After Yourself

David Weigel writes at Bloomberg (h/t Jesse Blumenthal):
Ethan Czahor never even got to Miami. In February, the 31-year old developer became the chief technology officer for Jeb Bush's presidential exploratory committee. He was welcomed with a Time magazine exclusive, reporting on the cute code he'd created to promote a Bush speech, and how he'd cut his teeth on Hipster.com.
Hours later, Czahor got a request for comment on his old tweets. He ignored it–he'd deleted some of them, anyway. "I wasn't hired to do any public social media outreach or any of that," he remembered last week in a conversation with Bloomberg. "It was a purely technical position."
Czahor's benign neglect failed to stop Andrew Kaczynski, a Buzzfeed reporter who toils in the social media salt mines, from finding 45 deleted tweets. They were mostly from 2009 and 2010, and mostly jokes.

It didn't blow over. One day later, after the Huffington Post dug up Czahor's old blog posts from his days as a campus conservative, he resigned. He declined media interviews, including one from Bloomberg. Czahor only returned, this month, when he had a product designed to save other millennials from his fate. Clear, an app that works as an add-on to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, is meant to "make sure situations like mine never happen to anyone ever again."

The free app allows users to scan their social media for a series of problematic terms, an idea that has appeared in speculative fiction from time to time–like the "spider repellant" in Christopher Buckley's Boomsday. A test run of the app, using my Twitter account, found that it was -849.5 percent "clear." This seemed to be bad. At least several times a week, the @daveweigel account had sent out something that the algorithm, backed up by IBM's Watson computer, found dangerous.
Continue reading:  http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-04-20/jeb-bush-s-social-media-casualty-creates-an-app-to-save-other-people-from-his-fate 

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