Chronic oversharers of the world, take heart. No matter what kind of wild photos, video, or comments you posted on Facebook last night (or last week during Spring Break), Reppler will come to your rescue. Like a morning after pill for your social media presence, Reppler’s service scrubs out evidence of any shenanigans that your boss, potential employer, or college admissions officer could use against you.
The service, which just launched today, is the brain child of Vlad Gorelik who mined his experience in the security and data analysis worlds to come up with Reppler. The former vice president of cloud services at AVG, a major player in the security software market, tells Fast Company that most people are less worried about identity theft and more about what others think of them. "Privacy is a component," says Gorelik, "But I think [Reppler] comes more broadly out of the fact that we are living our lives online and leaving a social trail."
Facebook is often the first stop on that trail for anyone interested in learning more about you. Consider: 75 percent of all job recruiters today use Facebook to evaluate a potential candidate’s online reputation and four out of every five college admissions offices use the social network to recruit students according to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2010 survey of college admissions officers.
Rhonda Wheatley, a job recruiter and career coach in the Silicon Valley, tells Fast Company, "No matter how liberal a company is (doing the hiring), most would still prefer to hire reliable employees who aren't out doing heavy partying and/or displaying themselves in photos others may consider distasteful."
Wheatley maintains that companies have their own reputations to protect as well, since potential clients (or VCs) also do their research.
She also points out that no matter how scrupulous you might be about your public profile, others may not have your best interests in mind when posting potentially damaging comments to your wall or tagging you in boozy photos. "If you don't have time to constantly monitor what's been posted, it makes sense to have a system such as Reppler do it for you. Skeletons which find a way out of the closet onto your Facebook page can quickly ruin your reputation and your future," Wheatley cautions.
"Baked In" Facebook
Like Fast Company’s prior coverage of start-ups with "baked-in" social dynamics (a la the Zuckerberg theory of industry), Gorelik admits Reppler is working with Facebook rather than against it—even though the service is intended to remove sharing and protect privacy.
Instead, Gorelik maintains that Reppler will enhance the Facebook experience especially for college students as they make the transition to the real world and there is no clear delineation between the personal and the professional.
"The concept is based on the fact that we have multiple facets to our personality and interact differently with people professionally than we do with our closest friends or parents. It doesn’t mean you are being fake and it’s not about getting people to stop being connected," says Gorelik. For instance, he points out a college student may add a thousand friend during the time spent and school and work. "This helps you manage connections and not have to block anyone."
The service can be accessed either on Reppler's site or through Facebook. Gorelik explains that there is an area on Reppler’s dashboard that rates the overall impression you project. "If someone comes back and looks at what you post over a period of time there might be unintended consequences if you always post when you’re upset," he says. Reppler measures the tone of your "voice," what others write about you, clocks how much time you spend taking care of your brown cow on Farmville, and what time of day you post. The last is most important if your supervisor frowns on using social media during working hours.
Reppler also flags any inappropriate content and language or comments about drugs or alcohol. There is also privacy and security panel that measures if you’ve overexposed your profile information via links to phishing scams.
To Revenue and Beyond
Gorelik says Reppler’s comprehensive service has already attracted a first round of funding from Norwest Venture Partners and angel investor Don Listwin. Though he’s staying mum on how many users the service attracted during its beta run, Gorelik is confident that Reppler will take off this year and envisions the possibility of introducing a tiered subscription-based revenue model down the road.
Steeped in Facebook currently, Gorelik’s plan is to add more social networks as well as incorporate more functionality. "Some people manage a well-defined group of friends while others accumulate thousands. Without a lot of the settings friends of friends can see what we’re up to and it’s hard to keep a secret," he explains. Eventually Reppler may include additional filters for profiles.
The target demographic is currently college students and job seekers, but Gorelik says Reppler’s really for anyone. "All of us blur boundaries between personal and professional, and as a result it has an impact."
[Image: Flickr user numberstumper]