Photo by William Iven on Unsplash
Facebook is to allow users to clean up their profiles by hiding posts and photographs dating from when they were teenagers or at university amid fears it could hinder their future job prospects.
The social network said it had added the feature because "we know things change in people’s lives" and that it wished to make it easier for people to "accurately reflect" who they were in the present. It said the public would be able to use the "Manage Activity” tool to search their posts by year or person, and delete or archive those posts in bulk.
If users archive posts, they will not just be hidden from timelines, as they are with the current “Hide” feature, but from across Facebook as a whole, regardless of where it was posted or who was tagged in it.
It said: "Whether you’re entering the job market after college or moving on from an old relationship, we know things change in people’s lives, and we want to make it easy for you to curate your presence on Facebook to more accurately reflect who you are today."
Such tools could prove useful to those looking to clean up their social media presence ahead of job interviews by making it impossible to find old posts of parties, nights out or fancy dress that could show them in a negative light.
However, the move may cause some concern that Facebook is allowing people to whitewash their history, making it more difficult for people to search through posts for evidence of damaging comments.
Over the past few years, it has become relatively easy to trawl through old posts, with the company in 2015 introducing a new indexing tool, by which users could search for terms such as “posts about drunk” and bring up lists of someone's historic posts. This has led to revelations over a number of high-profile figures, who have faced criticism over comments they had made on Facebook in the past.
In November, Conservative election candidate Antony Calvert stepped down from campaigning in Wakefield after historic Facebook posts emerged from 2010 and 2011 in which he made racist and sexist remarks. Mr Calvert, who had once referred to the capital as "Londonistan", said the entries were more than 10 years old, were not meant to be taken seriously and did not represent his views.
Naz Shah, meanwhile, was briefly suspended from the Labour Party in 2016 after it emerged she had shared a Facebook post which suggested that Israel’s population should be “transported” out of the Middle East to the US. She later admitted the comments in the post were antisemitic.