Gadgets

This app can delete your embarrassing social media history

We're going to make like a 90s sit-com and ask you to imagine one of those shimmery screen effects where you see into a possible future. You know the one.

Things are looking plush. You've landed your dream job - chief technical officer of a key American politician. Your horizon is brimming with late night coffees, rolled up sleeves and campaign-winning data strategies. 

But then, having barely had time to adjust your office chair to comfortable perfection, you're out of the job. All because of something you tweeted several years ago. 

[Cue shimmery screen effect to bring you back to the present] What sounds like a social media horror story actually happened to one Ethan Czahor - an event so infuriating that it inspired the 31-year-old to launch Clear, an app that can help you from stumbling into similar circumstances. 

By connecting your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts to Clear, the app gets to work scrutinising your posts for potentially harmful content - searching for specific key words (profanities) and generalised groups (your poorly conceived observation on "The problem with French people...", for instance). Clear will then produce a report, flagging which Tweets and status updates you might want to consider deleting. Rather than having to scroll through each feed, you can delete them instantly from within Clear.

The app is very much a "work in progress", with features such as image recognition and tighter word searches in the pipeline. You can download the Beta on iTunes or sign up via Clear's website. Or just, you know, not be an idiot on social media, and realise that your hilarious jokes about people with a different outlook on life might have serious repercussions. 

Clear arrives at a time when discussion of internet behaviour is at a much-needed high. Journalist and author Jon Ronson's new work So You've Been Publicly Shamed tackles the issues head on (you can read an extract here), while Google has just updated a feature that allows you to download your search history - offering a potentially warped insight into the strange things you've punched into a search bar, that looks all the more questionable without any context ("I wasn't looking for that, it cam up on autofill!").

Perhaps it's best to stick with the archaic fail-safe philosophy of "If you wouldn't say it to your nan, don't Tweet it". But then, we hear your nan has a wicked sense of humour...