persona1To learn more about you, employers today are reviewing the social media accounts of both prospective and current employees. Unfortunately for some, a provocative picture at the bar or one bad Tweet could cost you a chance at employment.

personalogoAnd that’s exactly where Persona wants to help. The new Seattle startup just launched a service that analyzes your social media profiles and flags inappropriate content that may compromise your professional reputation. After cleaning up your accounts, Persona also continues to monitor your social media behavior 24/7 for any potential damaging photos or text.

Persona’s technology parses Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts for questionable posts that include profanity, adult content, drug use, violence or discrimination.

“These are the things recruiters are looking for,” said CEO and founder Lee Sherman.

Persona founder and CEO Lee Sherman.
Persona founder and CEO Lee Sherman.

Sherman, a former Razorfish/aQuantive veteran, had always been fascinated with big data and was curious about how that played into the social media space. He quickly found that although recruiters and employers were scrutinizing social media data, not as many employees or those looking for a job realized this.

“There just seemed to be a disconnect between their understanding of the size and use of social media and how they were positioning themselves,” Sherman said of the workforce.

Once logging into your social media accounts on Persona, the service will scour those accounts from the day you started using them and flag, based on its extensive dictionary, potentially inappropriate content. The company is also partnering with a 24/7 monitoring service so that anytime a questionable post surfaces, you’ll get an alert and/or email telling you so.

While finding risky text is relatively simple from a technology standpoint, picking out images is a little more difficult. For now, Persona will notify users if there’s a sign of alcohol or drug use in the photos and let people decide if they want to take them down.

“We allow people to adjust the settings appropriately for themselves,” Sherman said. “One can easily whitelist certain terms that they might be comfortable with.”

persona1Persona is targeting recent college grads who are likely active on social media and just coming out of school looking for work. This is the “white hot” segment, as Sherman calls it.

“This is really the group that we are focused on,” he said. “Even lawyers who are 12 months out of law school, half of them are underemployed.”

Sherman said that surprisingly, there’s not another company doing what Persona offers. The service sounds similar to Reputation.com, but has its clear differences.

“They are very focused on consumers and enterprises with damaged reputations and helping them publish positive information about you,” he said of Reputation. “Persona is focused on social media and providing automated tools for flagging inappropriate content. It’s a very different solution.”

Persona will offer two pricing tiers — the upper tier will include image monitoring — at both monthly and yearly subscriptions fees that will be below $50 annually. The startup has a team of seven at its Belltown office and has raised $500,000 from Sherman and Clark Kokich, the current chairman of Razorfish who’s also serving as an advisor to Persona.

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