Do you remember what you were doing and thinking at this moment last year. What about five years ago? A decade? If you can't perhaps you tweeted something or made a Facebook post? Yesterday, a pretty momentous moment in my personal history popped up on Facebook - the day I bought a new house in the morning and sold my old one the same afternoon - and I remembered the feelings of excitement and relief. And then I thought about James Gunn, the recently fired director of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, and the cost of old tweets on his career.
In case you missed it, an alt-right conspiracy theorist took a dislike to Gunn and trawled through Gunn's Twitter history. He found (unsurprisingly) some tweets Gunn wrote. They were jokes about controversial topics that were pretty unfunny and in poor taste. But they were made between 2008 and 2012. People who know Gunn now say those tweets aren't representative of the man today.
The day after Gunn was fired by Disney from directing Guardians of the Galaxy 3 and his participation in the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), LucasFilm director (and also a part of the broader Disney conglomerate) Rian Johnson deleted his entire Twitter history prior to January 25 this year.
Johnson said "I don’t think I’ve ever tweeted anything that bad. But it’s nine years of stuff written largely off the cuff as ephemera. If trolls scrutinizing it for ammunition is the new normal, this seems like a ‘why not?’ move".
No official directive at all, and I don’t think I’ve ever tweeted anything that bad. But it’s nine years of stuff written largely off the cuff as ephemera, if trolls scrutinizing it for ammunition is the new normal, this seems like a “why not?” move.
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) July 25, 2018
I've been on Twitter since March 2007 - a year after the service launched. In that time, I've tweeted about 10,400 times. Not as prolific as many people but I'll be someone with an agenda could trawl through that and find something they could be offended by
And that's the problem. I have no recollection of most of what I've written on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other social platform I've tinkered with over the years. But I pretty sure that if someone wanted to find something 'offensive' they could.
Recruitment agencies and HR consultants routinely check social media profiles now when screen candidates. Is there something in your past that could come back to haunt you? I think we're coming to a time when Johnson's action, of preemptively deleting history and being super careful in future, is a step many of us will need to take.
Do you think it's time to look back though you social media history and start cleaning things up? Or perhaps the more drastic step of deleting your account completely is on the table for you?
By the way, if you want to look back through your old tweets, you can use the following syntax in the Twitter search box:
from:username since:yyyy-mm-dd until:yyyy-mm-dd