By Joe Chiodo
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- What you post on social media can come back to haunt you when applying for college admission, jobs or scholarships.
However, a new tool now promises to clean up your posts with the simple click of a button.
TheSocialU.com launched in 2016 and was used for the first time during the most recent round of college applications.
The site allows you to link all your social media accounts, and Social U will scan all your posts and pictures. It then flags anything you wouldn’t want an admissions counselor or a potential employer to see.
“It’s a scary thought. It is. And it’s something they have to hold themselves accountable for what they’re posting online,” said Tamara Byland, director of admissions at University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Byland says she thinks it is great that college-bound seniors, like Emma Shapiro, are using Social U to make sure their profiles are clean.
“There’s a lot of maybe illegal things going on through those [social media profiles],” said Shapiro, a student at the Barstow School.
Shapiro said she ha seen pictures and posts by people her age that include alcohol and much more.
“I do see some of that. Or drug usage ... or showing too much skin or swearing,” she explained.
Byland admits that larger schools, such as UMKC, simply do not have time to screen every applicant. But she said if any type of unacceptable behavior is brought to their attention, they investigate.
She added that when it comes to scholarship consideration, when the pool of applicants is smaller, social media is often taken into consideration.
Byland said illegal activity could result in revoked admission or other consequences.
“I’ve certainly seen decisions where students have been released from scholarship programs,” she explained.
Social U gave Shapiro a 4.3 social score – nearly perfect.
Shapiro said she doesn’t participate in, or post anything that would get her in trouble, but admits it is comforting to know even something she posted years ago, and may have forgotten about, were OK.
“I think when I was in fifth and sixth grade ... that’s when I was posting stupider stuff than now," Shapiro said.
Social U did flag a few of her posts out of caution, but none were actually bad. Not all students are like her though, and many have cleaning up to do.
Social U sent KCTV5 some examples. Flagged posts include a teen partying, two schools saying a coach pulled an offer from a player based on a tweet, and even a tweet that showed an admissions counsel was scanning social media.
The student tweeted, “The ivey application makes me want to vomit.” The school tweeted back at that student, and said, “Duly Noted.”
Julie Fisher, CEO of Social U, explained the benefits.
“We have it set up so it’ll flag alcohol, drug, and sex references. It’s especially useful for college ... because so many of those things are underage-illegal activity, but even as an adult, it’s not a good idea to post pics of you drinking or smoking. Even though it’s legal, it doesn't present the best online presence," she said.
Both Byland and Fisher agree that your digital footprint can hurt you no matter your age. Using the app is a good decision for everyone, they said.
The Kaplan Test Prep Company surveyed 400 college admissions officers. Forty-two percent said they found posts that negatively impacted a student during the admissions process. It reaffirms the fact that while sending a tweet takes seconds, it can ruin your future plans for a long time.
The tool works the same way across the board, no matter your age or what you’re applying for.
A big benefit of Social U is that once a post is flagged as inappropriate, the user can choose to remove it right away within the Social U site. That means you do not have to log in to each separate social media account, and scroll all the way back to the original positing date to delete the content.
TheSocialU.com is free to use.
Copyright 2017 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.