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Facebook’s new feature will help you erase your weird teenage years

Manage activity will make hiding your past shame easier than ever.

Mark Zuckerberg and Chris Hughes in 2004.
We all have awkward moments from our younger days that we’d rather forget.
Corbis/Getty Images
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If you were a tech-savvy teen and an early Facebook adopter, you’re now in your early 30s with half your life documented on the social media giant. If you’re like most teens (or, let’s be honest, most adults), you probably said a few things on Facebook that don’t represent who you are now — or at least, who you want people to think you are now. Well, you’re in luck: Facebook just introduced an easy new way to get rid of those bad old posts.

Facebook’s new “manage activity” feature, which is rolling out over the next few weeks, will allow you to “curate” your Facebook presence “to more accurately reflect who you are today,” the company said in an announcement. Users will be able to find and manage posts in bulk, with filters that let them find posts from certain date ranges or that mention certain people. Here’s what it looks like:

Facebook

A spokesperson for Facebook told Recode that, according to both users and privacy advocates, better control over past posts was a much-needed feature for the platform, given how much of users’ lives have now been spent on it. While users have been able to use a “limit past posts” feature to change large numbers of public posts to be visible only to friends, the new feature lets you pick and choose what you want to hide from the masses. You can either archive your embarrassing old posts for your eyes only or delete them entirely.

Even if you don’t regret anything you did in your younger days, it might not be a bad idea to give your years-ago Facebook days a trim. You can get fired from your job if problematic past social media posts surface, even the ones viewable by friends only, and things that may not have seemed bad to you back then may reflect poorly on you now. Potential employers may use automated background check services that misinterpret perfectly innocuous remarks, costing you a job without giving you the chance to explain them away.

Or maybe you wrote something five years ago that looks bad now when its context has been removed by the sands of time. All it might take is one 10-year-old Facebook post about how you hate Company X for Company X to decide not to hire you when you apply for a job there. Or perhaps you don’t want the conservative company you work for to know about your liberal political leanings. Before and after you get the job, your employment is often at the mercy of whatever the company thinks best represents its brand.

What the manage activity tool doesn’t do — at least, not yet — is let you mass-delete the stupid old comments you made in groups or mass-unlike dumb things you once gave a thumbs up. Facebook told Recode it’s exploring that as a future option. For now, manage activity is launching first on Facebook’s mobile version, with availability on its web version “in the future,” the company said.

Open Sourced is made possible by Omidyar Network. All Open Sourced content is editorially independent and produced by our journalists.

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