Former Jeb Bush staffer Ethan Czahor knows better than anyone that you’re just one bad tweet or Facebook post away from getting canned, so he’s created a new app called Clear that lets people vet their own social media accounts and escape his fate.
The story goes like this: Earlier this year, Czahor was forced to resign from his new position as CTO of Jeb Bush’s political action committee, Right to Rise, after reporters dug up old tweets that jokingly referred to women as “sluts” and other off-colour comments about gay and black men.
Czahor claims the tweets and posts were simply bad jokes, taken out of context from a time when he was studying improv comedy at The Groundlings in Los Angeles. Regardless, Czahor quickly found himself without a job, and that’s when the idea for Clear hit him.
“As soon as my situation happened, I had the idea for Clear,” Czahor told Business Insider in an interview. “But I figured I would take a few weeks off and kind of let things sit and simmer down. So I did, I played a lot of video games, of course. After that, Clear still seemed like a good idea to me, so I put it together.”
Czahor says he wanted to make it easier for people to vet themselves and their social media accounts, something he says he thought about doing before the scandal but never did out of laziness.
“When I first saw my name in the news, I thought ‘Jeez, I better check and make sure I’m good to go,’ because, you know, I had told jokes in the past and wanted to be in the clear on all that stuff,” Czahor said. “But it’s not easy to do, and I couldn’t find the tool that would do it for you. For me to vet myself, I would have to go to Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, and just scroll down and scroll down through everything and keep reading it — and it’s a real pain in the butt.”
Czahor says by connecting to your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, Clear scans the entirety of your social media digital footprint, flagging anything deemed inappropriate.
The scan takes place in three stages: the first flags any posts with obviously bad words including F-bombs and the “N” word. The next stage scans for references to particular groups of peoples, checking for words like “Americans” or “Latinos.” The final stage sends your post history to IBM’s Watson super computer, the same computer that famously won Jeopardy, to analyse your posts for sentiment and tone.
Czahor says the current build of Clear actually tends to flag more than it needs to, but that he figured it was better to error on the side of caution than allow things to slip through the cracks.
Once the scan is complete, Clear then assigns a score based on your social media past, which you can improve by either choosing to delete or approve each flagged post. Taking action on a post automatically improves your score, but deleting does improve your post more than approving an entry.
After going through my post history, I was able to improve my score from 87.9% to 93.7%, but Czahor says the exact score isn’t necessarily what’s important, it’s taking the time to look over everything and make a judgment call.
“The ideal score is 100%, but of course to be at 100% would mean you’ve almost never posted anything, so it’s very challenging to get a perfect score,” he said.
Czahor says that he plans to add additional social networks outside of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, in the future. “Anything with an API can be added very easily, but we want to make sure we get really good at the current three before we expand.”
Czahor also says the reception for clear has been positive so far.
“We launched on Monday and our wait list is around 5,000 people right now and it’s growing pretty fast, so we’re definitely pleased with the reception.”
You can download Clear for iPhone over at the App Store.