How to Clean Up Your Social-Media Past

Chances are, your social media accounts are long overdue a clean-up.

Think about it: You wouldn't like your reputation to hang on an ill-judged tweet from 2012, but there's every chance a potential employer, partner or friend will do just that when they creep upon your profile.

And creep they will, because you have zero privacy measures in place. Every cyber step you've ever made is there for everyone to see. That's a whole lot of baggage to unload.

That's why we've put together a definitive guide to cleaning up your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, as well as a step-by-step guide to safeguarding your online privacy for good...


An endless stream of grovelling celebs have been caught out for their offensive old tweets over the past few years, but it's not just A-listers who can fall victim to their past posts. There’s even a name for the modern phenomenon of average Joe’s getting globally tweet-shamed: The 'Milkshake Duck'.


Much like all of the regrettably stupid and objectionable stuff you did pre-adulthood, it’s best to put your old tweets behind you, learn and move on. For time-saving sake, that could mean deleting everything you posted prior to a certain year.

There are a number of free services you can turn to, including TweetDelete and TwitWipe, where you just log-in and follow their instructions. If you’d rather carry out a scorched earth policy on your objectively terrible feed, however, turn to TweetDeleter. For £5.99 a month you can delete 3,000 tweets per day and even archive them first, just in case you reconsider.

To set your profile to private, click on your account settings, select ‘Privacy and safety’ from the list and check ‘Protect your tweets’. That’ll mean nobody outside of your followers can see your tweets, even if you’re engaged in a conversation with someone with a public account.

To download a list of everything you've ever written on Twitter, simply go to your settings, then 'Account', then scroll down to 'Request your archive'. Let the cringe-athon commence.

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If you’re part of the generation that grew up on Facebook, grappling with your embarrassing past can seem a little insurmountable. The good news is that it’s not, but the bad news is that it may take a while.

First of all, go to your Facebook settings and click on privacy. Under ‘Your activity’, choose the option, ‘Limit the audience for posts you’ve shared with friends of friends or public?’. You can also limit the audience on your future posts, as well as how visible you are in Facebook search.

There are plenty of rip-off services that promise to take care of your digital baggage for you, but it's much more cost and time effective to do it yourself. To weed out statuses and comments you made in the past, click ‘View Activity Log’ on your profile. Then type all of the stupid, regrettable words and sentences you might have posted way back when into the ‘activity search bar’. Start deleting by clicking the pencil icon to the right of the post.

If that feels like too much effort, you can just delete all of your old posts and have done with it. To do that, opt for apps like Social Book Post Manager and Absterge.

You can download your entire Facebook history – including all private correspondences, likes, comments and images – by going to settings and choosing the 'Your Facebook Information' section. You can then download the data, or just view it in categorised form. This is also where you can permanently delete your account.


IMAGE: Getty/Sopa


Want to delete a big bulk of photos from your Insta account? Get a cleaning app like Cleaner for IG.

Not only will it make the job of deleting easier, but it'll also let you mass unfollow people or get rid of some of your own. If you only want to delete one, choose the photo in question, click on the three dots in the upper right hand corner and then tap delete.

It’s even easier to make your account private. Just go to your settings on your profile and check the privacy option. You should know, however, that if you put a link to a specific photo on Twitter and Facebook (or over a private message), it overrides your privacy settings, meaning anyone can see the image.

When it comes to Instagram stories, you can ensure that only a specific party of people see your image/video. Once again head to your settings, click 'Story settings' below 'Account', and choose 'Hide Story From'. Then it's just a matter of selecting the people you're hiding from. You can also do this through the list of users have watched your story by tapping the X to the right of their names.


This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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