Over the past few weeks, the notion that Twitter is not the ideal platform for sending illicit photos of yourself to other people has not broken any substantially new ground. In fact, what Anthony Weiner’s scandal only further reminds us is that Twitter — although a great place to express thoughts, interests and other information — is still subject to many of the same privacy concerns that have plagued Facebook for so long. Stories of individuals posting content or sending tweets that they either shouldn’t have posted, or incorrectly broadcast to the wrong audience were not uncommon before the scandal, but may become increasingly less common.
If the extent to which we can expose private information over social networking sites was a grey area before, it certainly isn’t now. According to several sources, immediately following the Weiner scandal, tweeting from politicians decreased by about 28 percent. Even the mere thought of saying something that could be misinterpreted was something that obviously strongly deterred politicians.
Now, with Weiner’s resignation impending, the destructive capabilities of Twitter and other sites like Facebook have become a central focus for much of the media. Back in 2008, a privacy issue with Twitter involving a third-party Twitter application called GroupTweet caused user’s private messages to show up in their normal Twitter stream. For some, that resulted in minor embarrassment, but for others it became an important lapse in privacy, revealing extremely personal information and communications.
And while we would like to believe that Facebook and Twitter gives us an in-depth glimpse into the private lives of many of the celebrities, politicians, and athletes that utilize it, there still exists a huge divide between what individuals decide to share on Facebook and Twitter, and what they decide to maintain as parts of their private lives. On the other hand, private messages have begun to bridge that gap, providing users with some sort of private means to communicate outside of the public eye. This feature has allowed users to maintain more private relationships and communications with their closest friends and contacts.
But as evidenced by Weiner’s recent scandal and subsequent resignation, sharing private information over the web that you wouldn’t want anyone else to see probably isn’t the greatest plan of action.