Before Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat were all a thing, recruiting was a matter of identifying and scouting college athletes, vetting them by speaking to their coaches and family members, and then ultimately hoping that when it was your turn to draft a player, he was still on the board.
Today, however, college athletes regularly tweet about social issues, family problems, their views on other athletes, and so forth. They receive input via comments—both positive and negative—from fans and their peers based on what they posted on social media. They’ll share highlight packages of themselves, retweet, and like anything positive said about their game by others.
Throw all of this in with the fact that these are still 19-20-year-old kids who also enjoy life outside of the sport that they excel in, and an athlete’s social media accounts can mirror the inappropriate language and antics often heard and seen throughout the halls of the high schools they attended not too long ago.
Just as an adult can be punished (or even terminated) by their employer for posting inappropriate or offensive content on their social media channels, athletes can lose opportunities if they slip up on social media. Student-athletes also need to remember that free speech isn’t without consequences. And posting inappropriate, controversial, or offensive content on social media channels—or maintaining connections with questionable individuals over various social networks—can have a huge impact on their future. Remember: once it’s out there, it’s out there.
So what can a college athlete do NOW before the NFL draft to give their future some reinsurance?
There are many services out there designed to help you manage your Twitter history and wipe it clean. Some are free, and some charge a subscription fee. Perhaps the most popular of these services is TweetDelete, which is a free web tool that lets you both delete your Twitter history and set a timer for the deletion of future tweets. TweetDelete used to just let you activate the delete process several times in a row to wipe more than 3,200 tweets in a single sitting, but it has since updated how the service works and you no longer can do so unless you pay for the premium version.
Before you settle on a service to wipe your Twitter history, you might want to consider archiving your tweets using Twitter.
To access your archive, head over to Twitter Settings, click on the “Your Twitter Data” tab on the left-hand column, and scroll down to “Twitter Archive.” From there, you can request your archive be sent to the email address associated with your Twitter account. Depending on how many pointless tweets you’ve fired off into the ether over the years, that may take a long time. Eventually, you’ll get an email from Twitter asking you to download your archive. It will arrive in a .zip file, which contains a folder in which you’ll find an index.html file. Clicking that will open an easy-to-read webpage in your browser window for scrolling through your entire Twitter history.
Another thing you can do is to start to unfollow inactive accounts. Let’s start with your family members. You know the ones. They started using Twitter in 2007 and haven’t been back since. They’re inactive users, along with potentially hundreds of other users you followed a long time ago, and never heard from again.
It’s possible to go through your Twitter profile, analyze each profile and unfollow them. If you’re following hundreds or thousands of people, that’s a waste of your time. You can use any one of numerous tools like UnTweeps. After you’ve deleted some inactive users, take another look. You’re likely still following too many users who are irrelevant. There are some options. If you unfollow almost everyone, it seems rude and you may tick some people off. It takes time to unfollow only select people. But if you keep it the same, Twitter stays messy. Another approach is to sift through the people you follow, identify the ones who are irrelevant and unfollow them.
When was the last time you had a scroll through your various settings on Twitter, including privacy? If I had to guess, it’s probably been a while! Unfortunately, this is something we don’t often think about doing. So, now is the perfect time. All you need to do is head over to your Twitter account, click “More” in the sidebar, and then select “Settings and Privacy.” Here, you’ll see a bunch of options which are pictured in the screenshot above.
As you clean up your Twitter account, take some time to go through each option on the menu. Because Twitter adds to and updates this periodically, it’s important to review everything to ensure it’s up-to-date. Check to make sure things like your phone number and email address are the most current. And maybe even change your password while you’re at it since it’s good to switch it up on occasion.
Finally remember, putting something out on social media ultimately means you’re agreeing to be judged on the content-even if you didn’t write it originally. On social media, everyone watches what you do, and when you put something out on the internet, it’s there forever thanks to screenshots and other methods of saving content. The key to remember that just because there are platforms doesn’t mean that we need to know everything you are thinking or feeling.
Be smart about it, your career is at stake.