[UPDATE – 02/05/2014: Click here to find out how to DELETE YOUR BEBO ACCOUNT]
We always think that it’ll never happen to us, or never happen to someone we know. Today, I was unfortunately proven wrong.
Over lunch I received a flurry of panicky messages from an old university friend who wanted to know how to delete her Bebo account. The reason? She’d received a phone call from a prospective employer cancelling a job interview because they’d run a social media check and found some things on her Bebo account that they did not like. She’d completely forgotten she even had a Bebo account.
By way of context, we all signed up for Bebo in 2006 during the latter half of our first year at university. However the honeymoon period didn’t last long as Zuckerberg came swaggering into town and everyone jumped ship to Facebook. I’d say we only used Bebo in earnest for about 6 months, so her profile wasn’t exactly what you’d call an up-to-date representation of her character in the year 2013.
Back to today, she went on to tell me what the company would have seen on her Bebo page, but by this point I’d already been able to find her profile for myself, and could fully empathise with the company for deciding not to interview her based on what they saw. However, what really upset her wasn’t necessarily the fact that they cancelled the interview – she realises that she’s responsible for the content – but that they were able to find personal information from a supposedly private social network so easily.
Unfortunately the distress didn’t end there for her. Having just picked herself up from the disappointment of missing out on the chance to go for her dream job, I then had to tell her that there was no way I could see for her to even login to Bebo, let alone delete or edit her account content. What remains – presumably indefinitely – is a snapshot of a 19-year-old girl’s view of herself and the world around her.
We were in our late teens, enjoying our first real taste of freedom and independence – we certainly didn’t think that seven or eight years down the line we might be missing out on job opportunities because of a couple of sentences we were writing about ourselves on a fledgling social network. In fact I’m not even sure the phrase ‘social network’ had even been coined back then.
We’ve both since emailed Bebo to ask if there is anything that can be done with regards to editing or deleting account information, but we’re not holding out much hope at this point. To her credit, she’s looking at it objectively and realises that she’s just got to suck it up and move on. She was also good enough to let me tell her story on here, saying:
“Let this be a lesson to us all… Social media really can be social suicide!!!”
It’s painful to see, because she’s one of the nicest girls you’ll ever meet, and a hard worker who’s very good at what she does. However something she wrote online as a naive teenager has today had an adverse effect on her career, seven years later. So take heed of her words, and make sure your profiles don’t contain inappropriate content – you never know when you might lose the ability to regulate it.