The internet isn't a forgiving place: If you grew up during the age of social media, every awkward photo, private thought, and questionable opinion your past self chose to broadcast online is still around for the world to see. You may not be able to delete the screen shots or memories of your followers, but you can make sure no new one is able to dig up those old posts—and you can do so without spending hours scrolling through your timeline.
According to Popular Science, Facebook gives users the option to hide all their content posted before a certain date. Just go to "Settings," then "Privacy," and select "Limit The Audience for Old Posts On Your Timeline." If your photos and statuses had previously been public, you can switch their privacy status to "Friends Only," making it impossible for future employers/in-laws/roommates who aren't connected with you on the platform to see them.
Of course, this won't stop anyone on your friends list from snooping through your Facebook history. To prevent that, you need to use a third-party service like the Chrome extension Social Book Post Manager. What this plugin does is automatically select all the posts you want to delete from a certain period so you don't have to. Highlighting the items and erasing them can take the program a few hours, but the process is still a lot more convenient than sifting through your timeline manually.
A similar app exists for Twitter. After heading to TweetDelete and signing into the service with your Twitter login and giving the app permission to access your account, all you need to do is specify how much of your profile you'd like deleted. You can choose to wipe every tweet older than three weeks, everything older than three years—just as long as the selected chunk falls within your last 3200 tweets. After the initial purge, TweetDelete will continue erasing tweets that reach that particular age until you revoke its access through your Twitter account's application settings.
Some people may want to cut down on their social presence for the sake of their careers or their reputations. Others are more concerned with how the actual platforms will use their data: Facebook, for example, looks at everything from your relationship status to your political leanings to make you a more appealing target for advertisers. Even the third-party apps that have access to your Facebook account likely know more about you than you're comfortable with.
To find out which Facebook advertisers have your data, go here—then resolve to keep your private information offline in the future.
[h/t Popular Science]