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OPINION | LET'S TALK: Redact.dev gives you a clean slate

by Helaine Williams | August 1, 2021 at 3:00 a.m.

You've read it here multiple times: Be careful what you post. Something might come back to bite you.

Advice geared toward you individuals who show far too much cleavage (or other body parts); who fail to don badly needed foundation garments underneath your body-conscious apparel for your selfies and buddy snapshots. You souls who post pix of every beer, shot of whiskey or cocktail you ever made/drank. You dear ones who don't even hide behind online nicknames to cuss like sailors and get into vicious comment fights over the most benign/sanguine posts.

You bless-your-heartees who believe in Facebooking While Drunk or whose shows of affection for your significant others stop just short of being sex videos.

If you've presented a few too many such social-media entries — or find yourself anxiously trying to remember whether you've done so as you ponder applying for that church position — there are some apps or services for that. Created by people who, rather than just warning everybody not to post stupid stuff, decided to make money off those who do.

"We all know that feeling: We're at a party, or a university reunion, and someone 'helpfully' reminds us of that time we did something embarrassing, uncouth or un-PC," begins the news release for a new service, Redact.dev. "If someone drunkenly tweets something, it could well go viral by 3 a.m. ... A Facebook post criticizing your boss can have real-world consequences, meaning they could potentially have seen it before you clock in at 9 a.m. the next day ... The point being that nowadays, any of our mistakes — what we say or do, or even re-tweet — can be seen by practically anyone else in the World Wide Web."

Another example given of stuff we'd want to delete, and this isn't really scandalous, just bothersome and bad-memory inducing: photos of one's self with a now ex-sweetheart or spouse. (Of course, the ex-wives and ex-girlfriends I know on social media appear to do a bang-up job of being their own post-deletion service. You'll see them going by their first and middle names on their profiles, or making names out of their kids' initials. You'll see photos of them, kids, other family members. You will not find one image of that ex. Anywhere.)

Anyhoo, Redact.dev will go through your social-media history and remove any posts that might come back to bite. You can set it to do this "across a variety of ... platforms, including social media posts, DMs, likes and videos." Named are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Slack, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Reddit, Tumblr, Tinder ... and a few I haven't heard of: Discord, Twitch, Imgur, Deviantart. (I checked out Deviantart, an online art community, and whew, OK, just the home page is rich with art images suitable for a 21st-century "Night Gallery" TV-show reboot — What's that thing about to eat that lighthouse? Hey, watch out, Spanish conquistador!!! Discord is advertised on its homepage as a place "where just you and a handful of friends can spend time together. A place that makes it easy to talk every day and hang out more often." Gee, what could possibly go wrong?)

Redact will not only wash your dirty online laundry; it will go you one even better. If you feel perpetually in danger of posting stuff you regret, you can schedule posts to be deleted at intervals of your choosing.

The company warns that it doesn't offer an excuse to be a troll, then lean on the software to delete your wholly troll-y offerings. "But most people deserve the chance to start on a clean slate with their social media and forgive past indiscretions," says a Redact spokesperson.

Similar social-media laundromats include Hidee — "redact what matters"; Censor, through which one can blur and pixelate photos; and Black Highlighter, which enables the user to hide information they don't wish to share in the images they do wish to share. (Heaven knows there's an image or two I'd like to banish from social media ... unfortunately I've been tagged in them, and they usually involve the camera adding pounds I didn't need.)

The Redact software news release did bring out my church-gal feelings. Many of us church types learn pretty early in life about a Creator who not only forgives but forgets and doesn't hold us to our pasts. We don't have to spend the rest of our days lying in the bad beds we made.

I'm happy that there are services are out there for those who repent of their posting mistakes and, indeed, want to clean their slates.

Unlike with God, though, you might have to give up a few dollars for premium service.

Email, without fear or favor: hwilliams@adgnewsroom.com

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