Social networking sites such as Twitter have become so popular that even members of Congress are using them to connect with the public. From congressmen live tweeting the president’s State of the Union Address (like Texas Rep. John Culberson in 2009), to former speaker Newt Gingrich announcing his decision to run for president in 2012, Twitter has quickly gained popularity among political leaders. According to www.tweetcongress.com, there are close to 400 members of Congress on Twitter.
Over the years (and decades), we have heard about numerous scandals involving politicians. As Twitter and other social networking sites become more popular, is it any surprise scandals will make their way to the online community? Perhaps we’re entering a new generation of political scandals…
Here are five recent scandals involving the Twitterverse starting with the most recent one you may have heard about:
Sex scandals involving politicians are no surprise. This one is unique in that it is one of the first to involve Twitter. We’ve all heard the story: a lewd photo was sent to a college student using the account of New York Rep. Anthony Weiner. He initially claimed it was a hacker, but many people doubted this excuse. Finally, on Monday, Rep. Weiner came clean and admitted that it was him. The real question is, would it be any less scandalous if his name was not Anthony Weiner? After all, we would not have the classic “Weinergate” title for this one.
2. Tea Party Candidate Joe Miller Declares Early Victory
There was a month left until the 2010 mid-term elections, but Joe Miller felt confident he had already won. So confident, in fact, that he felt the need to tweet a series of messages including “guess I should pick out some office furniture, as well, while in DC #tcot #tpp #alaska #ak.” The tweets were deleted shortly after and blamed on a staff intern. Maybe they were scheduled for the wrong date in TweetDeck.
3. Sarah Palin and the Accidental Favorite
In 2010, the former Alaska Governor stirred up some controversy when she clicked “favorite” next to a photo shared by Ann Coulter showing a church sign that called President Obama a “Taliban Muslim.” Palin swiftly claimed it was not intentional and deleted it from her account. Let this be a lesson people: Double-check that link or photo before you click “favorite.”
4. Racy McCain Photos
Okay, this one doesn’t directly involve Sen. John McCain’s account – it is actually from his daughter, Meghan McCain. In 2009, she posted a photo of herself holding a book and wearing a revealing, low-cut shirt. This caused quite a stir across the Twitterverse, and McCain even threatened to close her account.
She eventually apologized to anyone she offended and kept the account open. The lesson here: If you are the daughter (or son) of a presidential candidate, be extra careful about the photos you share.
5. The Not-So-Top-Secret Trip
Former congressman Pete Hoekstra took part on a 2009 congressional trip to Iraq and Afghanistan. Participants were asked to keep quiet for security reasons. Hoekstra must not have read the direct message sent from military leaders, because he proceeded to live tweet the trip with messages such as “just landed in Baghdad.” So much for this top-secret mission.