Paris Brown furore and my Facebook and Twitter social media history: A lot of drink, a lot of fags and some really dodgy photos

After Paris Brown was vilified for tweets she sent years earlier, Oscar Quine thought he had better check his own social media history

Splashed across the front pages, Paris Brown's tweets certainly painted an unattractive picture. Gays were dismissed as “fags”, immigrants as “illegals” – and her craving for hash brownies sat uncomfortably with her new role as Britain's first youth crime commissioner.

But after the dust settled this week, and 17-year-old Miss Brown had tearfully resigned her £15,000-a-year role, one thought stuck in the minds of those of us in the internet generation – could it happen to me too?

Young people who have been raised being candid about our lives online are now entering, or attempting to enter, the world of work. We're told that the first thing a potential employer may do is trawl applicants' social media. So I decided to get there first, to see what embarrassments are buried in my digital closet. And for the sake of thoroughness, I asked a private investigator to see what extra digital dirt he could dig on me. And, for some reason, I agreed to share it all here.

First up, what can I find on myself? On Facebook, there's booze and fags, a lot of. There's mild nudity and photos of me looking worse for wear. Some of me kissing girls, sometimes, it seems, despite my recollection, without them fully enjoying it. There's one of me pretending to kiss a male friend, and one of me actually kissing a male friend: drunken, full-frontal. One of me kissing a dog. A handful from a Thai strip club, and some at a Moulin Rouge birthday party with a girl's suspenders between my teeth. There's one of me intimately nuzzling a female friend dressed as a vagina, and one where I'm simulating sex with a giant penis made from snow.

On Twitter, I admit to being in a car driven by someone who is drunk ("I don't care if it's a stop sign, I just wish I was sober" #designateddriver). On Instagram, a photograph of a spliff in Amsterdam. And, across all, an ungodly number of pictures of food.

My youthful transgressions may be far from unique, but it's hard to imagine a potential employer looking on them kindly.

Of course, we self-censor. Cameras are only appropriate at certain times. There's the occasional detagging. Once or twice, I've asked a friend to take a picture down, usually with family members or potential employers in mind. I largely got my Twitter account for professional reasons. And during a period of frequent visits to the United States, I was advised by an immigration lawyer to remove anything vaguely suspect, in case I was pulled over by immigration. All of which makes me feel for Paris: she hadn't been dress rehearsed in these ways.

On the employment front, a recruiter tells me he sees trawling social media as bad practise: employees should not be judged on their private life. But I have friends who have had information about them brought up by superiors at work that could only have been found online. And Tony Smith, the private investigator with Insight Investigations, estimates that 15 per cent of his business comes from recruitment companies and employers.

I also trawled through the Facebook profile of my 14-year-old brother. I'm part of the internet bridge generation (I remember the sound of a dial-up modem), and have a different distinction of online and offline worlds. He was born broadband, and spends almost as much time online as in the real world. I found nothing incriminating, he's still a bit too young for adolescent mischief. Brown on the other hand, had a few more years to experiment with controversial lifestyle choices and opinions, and unfortunately for her, record them publicly.

Some journalists, the moment a story breaks, will take to social media to find out anything and everything about those affected, their family and their friends. I've been shown by a private investigator how to strip the EXIF data from a photo to give the exact location it was taken, with which camera model and the precise direction in which the photographer was facing. Scary stuff, but all perfectly legal, and public – and you never know when someone's spotlight might turn on you. Which leads me, hesitantly, to Smith's findings. From what he called 'the briefest of checks', he told me which universities I'd studied at, the different countries I've lived in, languages I can speak, and a charity event I took part in.

He gave me details of my family: their ages, addresses, occupations, how much their houses are worth. And he gave me information of business dealings my dad had over a decade ago. At first I was shocked, but then I thought: with a bit more time, other people could easily find something similar. I just hope there's no one out there who cares enough, and that I've been suitably thorough in vetting my online presence.

@oscarquine26

Oscar Quine @oscarquine26

April 11 “I don’t care if it’s a stop sign, I just wish I was sober” #designateddriver

Oscar Quine @oscarquine26

6 May 11 cheap margarita sour mix does not make for good hangovers..

Oscar Quine @oscarquine26

14 May 11 got home to vodka and no mixer but beer. #allkindsofdrunk

Oscar Quine @oscarquine26

11 December 11 drunk, always drunk

Oscar Quine @oscarquine26

28 March 12 Must remember, never get drunk BEFORE doing the important things

Oscar Quine @oscarquine26

7 June Just for the record, I am going get completely battered on this flight. See you soon England.

Oscar Quine @oscarquine26

19 June 11 I just orgasmed. if there’s no god why does cheese, bacon and avocado exist?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Media & Advertising Sales Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This national business publishi...

Recruitment Genius: Media Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Guru Careers: Bathroom Showroom Manager / Bathroom Sales Designer

£22 - £25k basic + Commission=OTE £35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Bathroom Sh...

Guru Careers: Account Executive / Account Manager

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive / Account Manager is ...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea