Every time one star rises another one descends. If these past few years have taught us one of many many things, once someone rockets into the spotlight there’s a good chance that some past bad tweets will arrive shortly after to big or little fanfare.
When Kevin Hart was named the host of the Oscars, his past homophobic tweets came to light and he dropped his hosting gig instead of renouncing his bad views. James Gunn was fired from the latest Guardian film after getting into a Twitter spat with a conservative commentator, leading intrepid supporters to dig through Gunn’s past really distasteful tweets. Trevor Noah had a quick comedown after being announced as the new host of The Daily Show. He was a relative unknown but his bad tweets about women, Jewish people, and domestic violence weren’t well received but ultimately Comedy Central stood behind him.
It’s become a facet of “Cancel Culture” to ask someone who recently come to prominence to explain and apologize for their bad tweets. Wired writer Emily Dreyfuss posited that we could use our Twitter as an ephemeral record of our thoughts, deleting our tweets on a regular basis, in good faith.
Late last year, Dutch web developer August van de Ven kept seeing celebrities falling to the bad tweet trope and wondered if there was a simple solution for people who were worried about being a (hopefully) temporary idiot in the past. He developed Will My Tweets Get Me Fired, which scans an archive of tweets to find if there are any possibly offensive tweets that you should think about deleting before you decide to peak in your life.
We had a brief chat with August about his motivations behind building this tool.
What inspired you to create the site?
When I made WillMyTweetsGetMeFired.com there were various celebrities that got in trouble because of offensive tweets they sent when they were younger or less famous. The biggest case of this at the time was probably James Gunn, director of Guardians of the Galaxy, who got fired by Disney after people dug up some old tweets of his where he joked about some very sensitive topics. Most people post very frequently on social media and quickly forget about their older posts and this can become a problem once you get a new job or a lot of public attention and someone begins to look up these old posts of yours. Many employers these days are also worried about the risks of old tweets of their employees resurfacing. That is how I got the idea to make this and what to name it.
What do you think of the trend of people looking back at someone’s old tweets once they get famous or gain some notoriety?
I don’t think it’s a good trend in many cases but I also think that it’s the celebrity’s own responsibility to get rid of these tweets or posts. Many celebrities have whole social media teams behind them so it isn’t that hard to have them remove some old tweets.
What advice would you give to someone who is afraid they might have some “bad tweets” in their past?
If you have a lot of tweets from when you were younger and you used to tweet a lot, a good thing to do is to archive all of your tweets and then delete all the old tweets from your profile so you can be sure there isn’t anything that can be problematic in the future. You can also use my service to lookup any offensive tweets if you don’t have that many tweets but that only works on tweets containing swearing and racist words.