There’s the old adage, “Live by the sword, die by the sword.” In Rep. Anthony Weiner’s case, though, it was a sword of a different kind that got him in hot water. His virtual epitaph would read “Live by Twitter, die by Twitter.” Such are the times we live in today.
I’m not gonna bore you with the details of Weinergate as I’m sure you’ve all heard your fair share of Conan and Letterman jokes by now. But, I will, however, say a few words on the role Twitter played in bringing the Weiner Man down.
We’ve read about the guy who tweeted about the raid on Osama’s compound while it was happening. We’ve read about Gilbert Gottfried’s insensitive tsunami tweets. And now we’ve seen pictures of the Package making the rounds on the Internet courtesy of Twitter. All these anecdotes just go to show that words (and pictures) travel super-fast in cyberspace and that what you consider private may not be so private after all, especially when you’re dealing with social media.
The success of sites like Twitter and Facebook is predicated on rapid expansion of the user base, the viral nature of social media, and the seemingly endless need to keep in touch with friends, colleagues, and constituents (in the Weiner Man’s case). What with so many friends, connections, and followers out there, it’s oftentimes tough to keep track of all your privacy settings for each person or group of contacts. All it takes is one misstep and you’re hosed (ahhh, another phallic reference).
As social media is still beset by many legal questions and oftentimes murky regulatory guidance, it behooves folks, whether they’re financial advisors, insurance agents, physicians, scientists, or politicians, to behave appropriately and prudently until such time that clear guidelines are made available as to what’s permissible and acceptable with social media.
The financial services industry was one of the first verticals to issue social media-specific guidelines, but even so, there still remain some uncertainty as to what to do with, say, client testimonials and replies to blog entries. The pharmaceuticals industry has long been rumored to be close to issuing its own set of social media guidelines. And, of course, government has hopped on the bandwagon, too, in an attempt to serve the public better and to make its politicians more accessible and accountable.
Ah, if the Weiner Man and his handlers (!!) had only had a technology solution in place to monitor his tweets and packages, he might’ve been able to escape unscathed. But alas, the Weiner Man got caught with his pants down, feeling the winds of shame. I can’t wait to see this tag cloud.