WSG comments on that Congressman Weiner Twitter thing you’ve heard so much about.

There’s no such thing as privacy on social networks and web applications; there are only degrees of sharing. You can intend to share with only one person or intend to share with millions. He wrote “@username ” instead of “D @username ” and the rest is history. But what’s the difference between these two extremes of sharing? In the case of NY Congressman Andrew Weiner, it appears the difference was as slight as a keystroke, but is that really the case?

Weiner’s mistake was sending a public message when he wanted to sent a private message, but how much protection would that really have provided? What if he had succeeded in sending his lewd photo as a private missive and the recipient had turned around and posted it to Twitter, Facebook, Digg, their blog, anywhere? The point here is that once you’ve sent it, private or public, you have surrendered control of the content. And if you’ve sent it from an account which is unquestionably yours, you can’t claim it wasn’t you. You can claim someone hacked your account, but that’s not a smart move unless you can prove it. Weiner tried to say he was hacked. Tried, and failed.

So, to summarize the take away:

1. Most private case: Send a piece of content to a friend or trusted recipient and only your friend reads it.
2. Least private case: Sent a piece of content to everyone who’s looking, whether you’re aware they’re looking or not.

In case 1, when anyone can pretend to be someone they’re not, your internet trolling might end with you sending sensitive information to the wroooooong person. Then case 1 turns into case 2, and your boat is sunk.

There is no such thing as privacy on social networks. Just degrees of sharing. Be. Careful.