Obtaining Security Clearance

Clean Up Your Online Profile Before Applying for a Clearance

It is highly recommended for security clearance applicants and current clearance holders to review their online digital footprint. This ensures anything they may have posted when they were young and foolish, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or engaged in an unhealthy relationship that ended poorly with revenge photos posted is cleaned up. Although background investigations in general do not ask for social media accounts or passwords, certain federal agencies like the FBI, CIA, or NSA do have the authority to ask for them during the application process. Here are some suggested activities to take:

  • Do a general search on your name using various browsers (Google, Bing, Firefox) and see if you appear in images, videos, articles, or are mentioned in content created by others.
  • Review your social media profiles for accuracy; look for fake accounts set up by someone else through data breaches (use haveibeenpwned.com).
  • Clean up information that you do not want posted; delete or remove inappropriate content.
  • If someone else has inappropriate content about you posted on their accounts, ask them to delete it.
  • Set limitations and privacy controls on your accounts to limit who can see them.

The amount of misinformation on the internet is staggering and with the use of artificial intelligence, programs can impersonate, reproduce, or generate false or fictitious personas and information. It is even more important to secure your privacy and information, lest you become a target of criminals, foreign intelligence agents, or even someone you knew and had a falling out with. With Continuous Vetting replacing periodic reinvestigations, you can be sure that online activities will gain greater scrutiny in the clearance process.