As Expected, Social Networking Generation Running For Office Face Their Permanent Record Online

from the it-ain't-going-away dept

It's been almost four years since we wondered what would happen when the social networking generation started running for office, since there would almost certainly be a digital record of activities that historically would have been buried and/or lost to history for most candidates. It seems that we're already starting to see what happens with some younger candidates. Earlier this year, we mentioned one candidate who dropped out of a race after "racy" Facebook photos popped up. MediaShift is now taking a look at the issue and finding that more and more candidates are dealing with this issue, though often in different ways. One embraced it, saying that the photos showed he was a real person and approachable. Others try (usually unsuccessfully) to scrub their digital histories. As this becomes more common, though, it seems likely that even as opponents try to exploit these sorts of things, most people will put the photos in context and not be all that concerned about them.


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  1.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 24th, 2009 @ 2:30am

    I'm glad...

    ...to see people who are open about their real lives. It's sort of a Kinsey moment that we all have, where you realize that what people say they do and what they actually do are different, and it's a sad one.

    I think that this sort of situation just brings us closer to the day when those two things are the same. I want to see the pop star who says, 'Yeah, those are my naked photos. What of it?'.

     

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    Call me Al, Nov 24th, 2009 @ 3:08am

    I hope the one who embraced it got elected. It will take time but I think it could be a real plus for democracy that these kind of issues come up. For too long politicians have tried to scrub clean their history and just portray themselves as whiter than white but we all knew it was a fabrication.

    Now we can see real people and that could help us to connect better with them as people and individuals instead of just governmental busybodies. I would even say that having a bit more transparancy in their history, warts and all, would engender a greater level of trust.

     

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    John Doe, Nov 24th, 2009 @ 4:04am

    This could be a problem for everyone...

    This could be a problem not only for people running for office, but people looking for a job as well. It might be a good thing that more and more of peoples lives are in the open as it may force us all to do just a little bit better.

     

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    Call me Al, Nov 24th, 2009 @ 4:09am

    Re: This could be a problem for everyone...

    or conversely it could force employers / voters etc to be a bit more realistic about how they are hiring or voting for, perhaps relax things a bit.

     

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    Yogi, Nov 24th, 2009 @ 4:11am

    No difference

    I doubt this will matter.

    People who believe politicians. or believe that politicians are not human, or better than other people, are ignoring reality and no amount of information can cure that, not even racy photos.

    Most people want to be lied to and they will get what they want, social networking and the internet notwithstanding.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2009 @ 4:31am

    Re: I'm glad...

    I want to see the pop star who says, 'Yeah, those are my naked photos. What of it?'.

    I guess you haven't heard of the ones already trying to sell their "leaked" sex tapes.

     

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  7.  
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    MarksAngel (profile), Nov 24th, 2009 @ 4:44am

    I think this could be a good thing. Maybe this will shut down those politicians who seek to try an hide their pasts and paint pretty pictures.

    Government has for far too long tried to keep our politicians on some pedestal. Just like when everyone freaked out over Clinton getting a blow job. Get over it all ready, it was between him and his wife, and really doesn't reflect his political views.

    Bring our countries leaders down to our level and I bet in the end it has a more positive outcome than a negative one.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2009 @ 5:48am

    This will become the "did you inhale" issue for 2020 or so. Everyone was so uptight about who did or did not smoke pot in the past, now it's almost a nonissue. Naughty naked butt pictures from facebook will fall in the same category.

    Actually, by the time most of these people try to get elected, Facebook will probably be long gone.

     

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    Mechwarrior, Nov 24th, 2009 @ 5:57am

    People who are honest about their lives , I would think, are more honest about everything else. I hope that guy gets elected.

     

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    SomeGuy (profile), Nov 24th, 2009 @ 6:29am

    Re:

    Interesting that you bring up Clinton. Most of the people I know who got upset over that whole ordeal were angry about the way he handled the issue, dodging questions and splitting hairs and generally being deceptive and insincere. WHAT he did meant a whole lot less than how he handled it, and the latter DOES say a lot about his character and what we can expect to see in foreign and domestic dealings. I expect the same reaction to Social-Networking-Generation candidates who try to scrub their past: better to be upfront about where you've been than to be caught being dishonest.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2009 @ 6:43am

    You mean the Internet allows candidates who represent the people, and not just big corporations, to get some publicity? Big corporations forbid.

     

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    More for me..., Nov 24th, 2009 @ 6:44am

    I like this trend - those of us who are not fools will have increased opportunities compared to those not intelligent enough to think before they "tweet" (and compared to those unintelligent enought to think we actually care about their dull lives).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2009 @ 6:49am

    If there were pictures of a George W cocaine party I think things may have turned out differently for him.

     

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    MarksAngel (profile), Nov 24th, 2009 @ 7:12am

    Interesting that you bring up Clinton. Most of the people I know who got upset over that whole ordeal were angry about the way he handled the issue, dodging questions and splitting hairs and generally being deceptive and insincere. WHAT he did meant a whole lot less than how he handled it, and the latter DOES say a lot about his character and what we can expect to see in foreign and domestic dealings. I expect the same reaction to Social-Networking-Generation candidates who try to scrub their past: better to be upfront about where you've been than to be caught being dishonest.


    You may be right about folks being upset with the way it was handled. But I don't believe the act of cheating says he'll be a bad leader. However you have a point in saying that the act of being dishonest does.

    Either way people should be more honest and hopefully we are headed toward a more honest society.

     

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  15.  
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    DS, Nov 24th, 2009 @ 7:23am

    Re: This could be a problem for everyone...

    Good. It should. Maybe people will someday realize that acting like an idiot, and echoing internationally might not be the best plan in life.

     

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  16.  
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    Jeff Dierking (profile), Nov 24th, 2009 @ 7:41am

    Re:

    Exactly.

    I lost faith in him during the campaign when he said, "I didn't inhale," and that was compounded when he lied about the oval office hummer.

    A liar is a liar. End of story.

     

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  17.  
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    MAC, Nov 24th, 2009 @ 8:03am

    Social...

    There is a simple solution to this problem.
    Don't, I repeat Don't mess around with social networks, anything you post can and will be used against you...

     

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  18.  
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    Mac, Nov 24th, 2009 @ 8:05am

    Re: Re:

    You should have seen him giving his depositions...
    Or how about right after Hillary found out about Monica...
    He was on TV for some PS Artsy stuff, his makeup ran under the bright camera lights and boy did he have a shiner around his right eye.

     

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  19.  
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    SomeGuy (profile), Nov 24th, 2009 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re: This could be a problem for everyone...

    There are plenty of successful and well-adjusted people who didn't HAVE a plan in highschool or college, and EVERYONE has done things at one time either because they didn't think about the consequences or because they couldn't foresee the consequences. Be careful with your holier-than-thou, people-should-be-perfect attitude. It's not realistic and it doesn't give people the freedom to make mistakes and grow from them. As I was once told, "good judgement comes from experience, and experience... that comes from bad judgement."

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2009 @ 8:16am

    As this becomes more common, I expect the people will even start suspecting something odd about candidates if they CAN'T find any sort of "evidence" about their previous lifestyle on the intertubes.

     

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  21.  
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    SomeGuy (profile), Nov 24th, 2009 @ 8:16am

    Re:

    But I don't believe the act of cheating says he'll be a bad leader. However you have a point in saying that the act of being dishonest does.

    You imply that cheating isn't an "act of being dishonest." Most people would disagree with you there, I think.

     

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  22.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Nov 24th, 2009 @ 8:16am

    As this becomes more common, I expect the people will even start suspecting something odd about candidates if they CAN'T find any sort of "evidence" about their previous lifestyle on the intertubes.

     

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  23.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 24th, 2009 @ 8:25am

    Re: Re: I'm glad...

    Yup, and those people haven't managed openness yet, as evidence by your quotation marks over the word 'leaked'.

    Why can't Carrie Prejean just say, 'Sure, I made several dozen nude photos, and seven or eight sex tapes. What of it?' and Vanessa Hudgens to say, 'Yeah, I don't shave my bush. What of it?'.

    They have to pretend like it's something shameful and wrong in public and that sucks.

     

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  24.  
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    SomeGuy (profile), Nov 24th, 2009 @ 8:36am

    Re: Re: Re: I'm glad...

    While I agree with you that openness is the ideal to aim at, I don't think "openness" necessarily means "lack of regrets." If Prejean really does feel like her nude shots are shameful, there's arguably nothing wrong with that. openness could be he saying, "what of it," as you propose, but it can just as easily mean her saying, "I made some bad choices and learned to move on." I don't think either one is more right than the other, as long as it's honest.

     

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  25.  
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    DH's love child, Nov 24th, 2009 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re: This could be a problem for everyone...

    a lot of this though is the same shit we did in college. We partied, got drunk and did stupid shit.. sometimes we took pictures, sometimes we didn't... It's naive to think this will make kids less likely to act like idiots.. that's why they're kids, not minature adults...

     

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  26.  
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    TheStupidOne, Nov 24th, 2009 @ 9:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm glad...

    Or those ladies with nude photos should just be happy that people want to see them naked. There are plenty of women (including celebrities) that I would pay to be prevented from ever seeing them naked.

    On Topic: We're just entering a time when your life isn't able to be hidden. In some number of years everyone will have that problem and it won't be a problem. Perhaps when the 'skeletons' in everyone's collective closet become plainly visible to everyone we can stop arguing about how candidate X did something bad in his 20s and start focusing on how candidate X will represent his constituents ... Yea, I'm dreaming

     

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  27.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Nov 24th, 2009 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm glad...

    Okay, I agree with that.

    Right now though, they're mostly lying and covering it up, like Prejean did after the first nude photo and the first sex tape.

    I'm not really knocking them for this, because society can be pretty damned compelling, whether you're Prejean or Clinton.

     

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  28.  
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    Mark, Nov 24th, 2009 @ 12:24pm

    Get over it

    It's the puritanical "morals" that keep people covering these discrepancies up. Most of the country will look down on a person if they even admit to having tried drugs, had sex out of marriage, and a myriad of other socially reprehensible activity's.

    Social mores and taboos dictate how politician's and public figures present themselves to the public, if anyone is to blame it's us.

     

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  29.  
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    DS, Nov 24th, 2009 @ 8:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: This could be a problem for everyone...

    Holy shit! I know, it's freaky that there might be ramifications for people's actions!

    Holier than thou, people should be perfect attitude?

    No, that's your "I'll do what I want, when I want" filter. Again, let me type slowly (trust me, I'll type slower).

    Acting like and idiot AND THEN ECHOING INTERNATIONALLY.

    If you make something PUBLIC, expect it TO BE PUBLIC. Trust me, I've acted like an ass before (and still do, depending on who you ask), but I don't feel the need to tell the world when I do.

    Why is that so hard?

    Maybe I just come from a time when you used an alias to protect yourself (bbs days). Not to hide yourself, but to protect yourself.

     

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  30.  
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    DS, Nov 24th, 2009 @ 9:00pm

    Re: Get over it

    Wait, what?

    If someone does something that I consider Bad Judgment, I shouldn't behave (not support in the above example) someone because it's society's (my) fault?

    You do realize it's not just a "morals" issue, right? Or that "moral" does not mean the same thing to everyone?

    (Also, not to be a grammar Nazi (as I'm sure you can tell by my post above), but putting a ' before an s generally indicates possession. It's distracting when used wrong, and takes away from the high ground attitude that you otherwise are portraying in your post)

     

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  31.  
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    Gene Cavanaugh, Nov 25th, 2009 @ 9:12am

    Social network history

    Great point, and dead on!

     

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  32.  
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    Planetwebfoot (profile), Nov 30th, 2009 @ 9:13am

    Re: Social...

    I absolutely agree. In this day and age we know how our past can come to haunt us and social networks is just another space where we express ourseelves and anything can be dug up.

     

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