Internet/Telecom/Social Media

SnapChatting around the issues

In the aftermath of Anthony Weiner’s most recent sexting scandal, I keep hearing this argument for better technology from pundits and late night hosts. Something along the lines of “Why didn’t he just use SnapChat? Those photos on only last up to 10 seconds! Any middle schooler who has ever sent a picture of their bits knows that!”

There are a bunch of problems with this argument, and I wanted to address them.

First, let’s take care of the “use better technology” part. SnapChat, for the uninitiated, is an app for iPhone and Android phones that allows users to take and share photos with other SnapChat users. They allow captions, drawings on the photos, and a set expiration time: usually 10 seconds or less. In my experience, the technology is used to send dumb, double-chinned photos with Perez Hilton-esque finger paintings back and forth to your friends. But the app gained some popularity with sexters because of the set time limit. Finally, people could send NSFW photos to others and have them disappear after mere seconds!

This argument is flawed. Even with this “new and improved” sexting technology, there are ways to keep that photo. You can still screen grab them – and screen grabbing DOES allow you to send the photo along to others. The app has developed a notification system for the sender in case this happens, but it doesn’t actually do anything to stop the recipient from freezing that photo, adding it to their camera roll, and then sharing it with others.

The second problem with this argument is, technology is not the problem we should be focusing on.

By focusing on the technology part of this scandal, we’re ignoring the fundamental fact that Anthony Weiner sent photos of his junk to women who were not his wife – some of whom probably didn’t want that photo in their inbox. After doing so, he lied about it and said his Twitter feed was hacked, and spent thousands of dollars to investigate the hack (when he could’ve saved that money and simply owned up to sending the photos). After swearing to never send those photos again, he sent more photos of himself to women who were not his wife, and appeared unrepentant when asked about it.

In this way, the news media and entertainment media focusing on the technology used, instead of the transgression, is a disservice to their viewers. This is an elected official lying about his personal life, and wasting campaign money in investigating a “hack” to save face. This is a candidate for public office, expected to be (semi) honest with the people he governs, and by focusing on SnapChat as a solution rather than his lies as a problem, it’s not helping anyone.

More importantly, by suggesting a technological “work around” to getting caught sexting, we’re acknowledging that politicians are going to sext people, and that it’s acceptable behavior. We’re not holding someone accountable for their actions here – we’re telling them how to obfuscate their behavior even further. By saying “Just use SnapChat!” we’re saying “You’re an idiot, instead of not sending pictures of your junk, you should’ve just sent them another way so we have less chance of finding out about it.”

Call me crazy, but I think people should be held accountable for stupid things that they do. I think Wall Street bankers that shafted millions out of their homes and retirement savings should be punished by more than pithy fines. I believe that 18 year-olds that post drinking photos on Facebook without at least making their profiles private should have employers find them and question them. I believe that journalists that mislead people and report false news should be exposed as the frauds they are. And I believe that public figures should be questioned when they do dumb things like send photos of their naughty bits to constituents. I don’t think we should be advising them on how to lie more easily, because this just grows the problem into something larger – and it has nothing to do with technology.

6 replies »

  1. …and from the Peanut Gallery…

    Right on Alex! A man who will cheat on the one he professes to love will most assuredly cheat on his constituency. A fatal, unforgivable character flaw in my view.

    The beauty of evolving digital communications technology is the ever increasing audit trail that we all leave as we move about the activities of our private and public lives. For those of us living honorably, no worries, it’s just bits and bytes, little more than street noise.

    But for those who prefer thieving and cheating for their daily bread and pleasure, they better watch out. Their lives are an open book for anyone with the purpose and wherewithal to pursue forensic examination.

    • I worry less about the “cheat on the one you love” thing than I do the basic intelligence I’m seeing here. I have long since learned the hard way to make NO assumptions about what goes on inside a marriage. Maybe he betrayed a trust and … maybe he didn’t. Who the hell knows.

      What we do know is that he isn’t capable of displaying the kind of judgment and self-control you want out of an elected official.

      Past all that, Alex is hitting on a point that I wish more of our “journalists” could grasp.

      • Agreed Sam my premise was weak, marriage means many things to many people. However when Weinerflasher publicly said his mea culpas and then went right back to the same shitty behavior, that showed both ignorance and lack of fidelity. A stupid man with no honor is the worst choice for a husband as well as public service and fiduciary responsibility.

        To see the soul of a man, play a game with him. Can he have fun following the rules and show grace win or lose? Or does he get angry at himself, his tools, the world around him, make continual excuses and lay blame at every doorstep besides his own? Some of these clowns think every 3rd shot ought to be a mulligan and we need the press right there shining Kleig lights in their beady little rat eyes when they try to take it.

        We’re all agreeing with Alex’s succinct thoughts…If journalists become apologists or even co-conspirators for untrustworthy politicians our goose will decidedly be cooked.

  2. Anthony Weiner’s exhibitionism is really icky and really weird. You’re point is a good one – technology isn’t an issue here, it’s an egregious sexual act that has never stopped happening and most likely, never will stop happening.

    Call me spartan and antiquated, but even sexting one’s wife sounds icky and weird to me. Any media organization claiming this to be nothing more than a technological snafu is nuttier than even Weiner. Or they’re involved with mere sophistry to come up with another opinion angle, which they always tend to do. Very clever. And very, very dumb.

    NYC deserves a strong leader with integrity and maybe not the character of a saint, but at least a leader with some moral decency and enough scruples to know what is taboo and what isn’t. NYC doesn’t need some weak jellyfish who’s always going to use his office to check out the “chicks” that he can send his hideous naked pictures to over a cell phone or a computer. Weiner’s a very sick man. And the center of one of the biggest political arenas in the world is no place for such a slimy little weasel.

    By the looks of things, Weiner’s lucky if he gets an appointment in NYC’s dog-catching department after this campaign is over.