Going “clear” is in this year. First as a perfect score for horse jumping; then in Alex Gibney’s Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival; and now as the new project of Ethan Czahor, who had to resign as Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of the Jeb Bush Presidential campaign over some nasty old offensive tweets. Czahor has just launched a new iOS app called “Clear” to purge offensive “stuff” you may have posted on social media.
Most people do not begin to worry about what they did on social media until it stands in the way of their employment. Czahor thought he had solved that problem by entrepreneurially co-founding “Hipster” and selling it to AOL for big bucks.
But as a millennial young conservative that graduated from college in 2009, Czahor had done a great deal of confrontational blogging over controversial issues such as racial quotas, gender and welfare that worked just awesomely for leftist journalists to take out of context.
Czahor’s old blogging included a post on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. along the lines of the “MLK would have hated affirmative action” trope. To achieve racial togetherness in America, wrote Czahor, “the final step is to abolish all racial-based programs and let all individuals compete as equals. That’s the way Dr. King would have wanted it.”
Bush handlers cited Czahor’s comments as a distraction–and as the reason he had to leave the campaign a month after being hired in February.
Czahor is what Bloomberg called: “the umpteenth youngish politico to have the worst of his old thoughts blurted across the Internet, just days after Illinois Representative Aaron Schock’s communications director resigned over racially insensitive Facebook posts, and not long after an aide to Tennessee Representative Stephen Fincher resigned because she’d Facebooked some critical opinions about the First Family.”
But Czahor has used this personal disaster as his motivation to start Clear as an app to help people avoid his own bad experience.
Although Clear is still in beta testing, TechCrunch writer Anthony Ha (@anthonyha) was able to try the app. He was fairly shocked when an analysis of his Facebook and Twitter account produced a score of “-381.2 percent”. Ha thought that sounded ominous, until he heard the lowest score so far was -2,404 percent.
The app gives users the option to retrieve and list newer, older or the worst posts. The algorithm that drives Clear pops up what Ha calls “the obvious F-bombs and N-words. The app is also looking for warning signs like references to racial groups or sexual orientation, and it also analyzes the general sentiment.”
The product is still a long way from launching commercially according to Czahor. He seems to want to learn how people use and respond to the tool before he figures out the business model to drive acceptance.
Czahor acknowledges that good advice is, “If you don’t want people to get mad at you for horrible stuff you said on Twitter, isn’t the best solution to avoid saying horrible stuff on Twitter?” However, he wrote in March 2009 that he expected Twitter implode and go away:
My best estimation is that people use Twitter only because lots of other people are already using Twitter. How did this inertia begin? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. But because Twitter makes no money — that’s right, zero revenue — and offers scant new functionality, I’ll give it three years: that’s two years and eleven months of growth immediately followed by one month of precipitous decline and implosion. After that, it’s going to need a government bailout to stay afloat.
Clear app takes advantage of the deletion capabilities that already exist on social networks, but its value comes from making it easier to categorize and find the type of posts you want to delete.
Most celebrities and notable people seem to have no idea that when they are partying with friends or just “going off” on the web that it may come back to haunt them. Clear seems the ideal tool to help the users avoid the “wtf” moment when they have become their own worst enemies.