Why Should I Clean Up My Social Media?

Author: Mag Shou
Mag is a student employee with Technology Services and is a senior at Illinois majoring in Communications.


In the digital age, social media profoundly influences our lives, making maintaining a clean online presence crucial. For college students, specifically those who are preparing for the future, social media profiles are essential to maintain. There are a few reasons why students may be compelled to clean up their social media: academic pursuits, career prospects, and personal security.  

1. Admissions Success

Aspiring graduate students should recognize that admissions committees often scrutinize applicants’ social media profiles. This also applies to students who want to be athletes in the future. While personal statements and CVs are vital, online content can provide deeper insights. Therefore, hiding or avoiding sharing negative or unprofessional content is advisable. 

2. Career Opportunities

Job seekers must know that potential employers routinely check social media profiles. These profiles serve as an extension of one’s resume, reflecting qualifications and character. Employers may assess online footprints to gauge suitability even in seemingly unrelated fields like retail. 

3. Privacy

Reckless personal information sharing on social media can trigger privacy breaches and subsequent cyber threats like cyberstalking (harassment through technology), cyberbullying (digital harassment causing distress), public embarrassment (harmful posts/comments), and identity theft (fraudulent use of online personal data, risking financial loss). 

To increase future opportunities and mitigate these risks, college students are encouraged to exercise caution when sharing personal information online and to maintain vigilance by regularly monitoring financial statements for suspicious activity.  


How do I clean up my social media profile? 

Remove negativity. Ensure that your social media presence remains positive by removing posts that express complaints, regardless of the subject – whether it’s related to an airline, a political figure, an educator, or a coach. The objective here is to cultivate a favorable image for you. Additionally, it’s advisable to consider deleting provocative, discriminatory, cynical, sarcastic, or unkind posts.

Remove unprofessional, personal content. A couple of channels (like Twitter and Facebook) can be designated to be public and professional accounts, but others can be private. Consider the frequency of selfies on your profile on some public, professional channels. If selfies mostly feature exaggerated expressions, they may convey unprofessionalism. The same goes for language and typos.

Be intentional about what you post. Use social media to present a well-rounded image to colleges and employers, setting the image and goals for yourself and how you want people to perceive you. Share updates about college life, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and philanthropy to showcase your character, social responsibility, and commitment to growth. This offers valuable insights for those reviewing your profile.  

In conclusion, cleaning up social media profiles and maintaining a positive online presence is crucial for college students. It influences academic success, career prospects, and personal security by avoiding cyber threats and portraying a well-rounded image.