It’s sexually explicit photograph week. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) has denied sending an errant tweet last weekend that linked to an image of a man clad in tight boxers. Now, Tito Ortiz, an ultimate fighter, also claims he never sent out a tweet that appeared in his social stream with a link to a much more revealing shot than the photograph that appeared in Weiner’s stream. While Weiner cannot say with certitude if the boxers are his, Ortiz does not deny that the photograph of him standing before a mirror naked is him. They both say their Twitter accounts were hacked. There is no reason to believe otherwise (except perhaps Occam’s razor?), but for the sake of making a point about Twitter and about sexting in general, let’s make a few hypotheses.
First hypothesis: The men did mean to send suggestive photographs out into the ether.
If that’s the case, they forgot a lower case d. On Twitter, as in other social media platforms, there’s the ability to send a public message or a private message. In Twitterspeak, it’s called a Direct Message or DM for short (forgive me for going over the basic, Twitter folks, but we need to start somewhere).
You can go to a specific web page to DM people, or you can simply add a lower case “d” to the front of your message and then a person’s Twitter name (usually @name) as a shorthand to signify to the program that the computer to should make that a private message.
If, in the haste of tweeting, that d gets left off, the private becomes very public. An ESPN writer learned this the hard way when he broke a major sports news story when he jumped off the DM page and on to the main page and never entered that magic d. “And I'm just sitting there staring at it. It's like the scene in "Seven" when Brad Pitt finds his wife's head in the box. What did you do? What did you do? ” he would later write about the incident.
My kingdom for the letter d.
Second hypothesis: The men had naked photos of themselves on their computer and someone else sent the photographs out.
Is Twitter becoming the new forum for sexting? It’s certainly not illegal to send naked photographs of yourself (well, unless you are a student in California). Ortiz is partially in the clear here. He admits to taking the naked photograph unlike Weiner, who won’t say either way. But why have the photograph uploaded to a social site? The cloud is probably not the best place to keep intimate images of yourself. It’s easy enough for hackers to get into folks’ phones and find naked photographs, how much easier to hack into a social network and pull off the images.
(As a side note: Monica Hesse has some good lessons for menwho consider taking the photographs in the first place. “Listen up, fellas, Naked man-parts? Not so sexy.”)
Also, nothing every really disappers from social networks. There is no magic erase button. Out of OCD-issues, I reguarly delete all the contents out of my inbox on Facebook. When the company made some changes to its messaging system, guess what popped back up? All of my deleted messages.
Conclusions: It could be a hack. It could be a prank. Or it could be a very good lesson: nothing is private on the Internet. Not even your naked photographs. Especially your naked photographs.
(Tito’s story via New York Daily News)