What do you do if you’re fully aware that your Facebook account is strewn with content that seemed perfectly fine to share at the time, but in hindsight could cause a lot of embarrassment? How do you ferret out those naughty pictures and status updates full of crass language? A Facebook app called Facewash (Facewa.sh/) (free) searches your entire Facebook account for you, on the prowl for anything that might be questionable, helping you delete or hide photos, comments, and posts that could pose a problem the next time a potential employer searches your name online.
How Facewash Works
The free Facewash app connects to your Facebook account like any other Facebook app, meaning you have to give it permission to look through everything in your account—and you should. If you’re concerned at all about connecting third-party apps on Facebook, rest assured you can remove the app when you’re done with it.
The tool largely automates the process of finding questionable content, although it doesn’t automatically delete or hide it for you, which is good. You ought to be able to make the call for yourself on a case-by-case basis after evaluating the context.
In any event, when you click “start” for the first time, you can sit back and let the app do the work. It will scour your account in search of bad words, which include profanity and many other words that may or may not have a negative connotation depending on context, “suck” being a prime example.
The app can search both English and Spanish, although not simultaneously. It claims to look through your:
- status updates,
- photos (although with limitations, explained below),
- photos in which you’ve been tagged,
- “liked” links,
- “liked” photos,
- pages, and
When I ran an automated search, which took seconds, my account turned up fairly clean, with only a few instances of status updates showing profanity and other flagged words. Facewash’s flagged words appear highlighted in green in context of the entire Facebook activity, so it’s really easy to evaluate them.
Looking at my questionable content, I decided that most of them were perfectly acceptable. There were a few curse words, most of which were quotes, a post that referenced “bestiality” (in reference to a German news article on the subject), the word “sexy” in reference to the television show Dirty Sexy Money (starring the fabulous Donald Sutherland), and a few instances of “suck” (as in “Whoever said being an English major in college wouldn’t pay off was clueless. Suck it!”).
Facewash groups content by type according to the bullet points above. It only searches back a few years, and then displays a button beneath each section’s results that prompts a search on content going farther back.
To remove any item, you have to click on it, which brings you to the post in question directly on Facebook. I’d prefer to be able to delete or hide the content right from Facewash, although I’m not sure if this limitation is a byproduct of how Facebook’s APIs work (I imagine it is). Nevertheless, an ideal tool would like me select multiple instances of content to hide or remove in one fell swoop.
Facewash searches your photos on Facebook, too, although it only appears to search comments, captions, and other textual information associated with them. I enlisted some help and scanned two more accounts, it does in fact seem to be the case that Facewash only searches text and not the content of photos.
Say you’re going to a job interview at a company, and you want to be sure your Facebook account doesn’t reference that employer or any of its products in a negative light. You can use Facewash to search for any terms of your choosing, such as brand names, employer names, or really anything at all. It displays results the same way, and again, you have to link through to Facebook to actually change the settings to remove the activity.
It’s worth noting that you can do most of this same thing right on Facebook using the activity tools (see “Get Organized: How to Clean Up Facebook” for detailed instructions). What Facewash adds is an automated search for a long list of potentially dangerous words.
Finally, Facewash reportedly will be adding another arm soon that will run the same kind of dirty content check on a Twitter account.
Facewash won’t leave your Facebook account perfectly spotless, but it can help you find and evaluated instances of questionable content. Its value lies in its list of words, which likely include terms you otherwise would not have thought to search out among your Facebook content. It helps you make decisions on a case-by-case basis about how to treat various activity, rather than obliterate it all, although it would be helpful to have a feature that lets you knock out a number of posts in one shot, rather than manage every single piece of content one by one. If you aren’t sure what’s on your Facebook account, let Facewash do a quick scrub down. You might be surprised at what you find.
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Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc