Did Weinergate Traumatize Congress Off Twitter?


Via Gawker, some stats about congressional activity on Twitter in the week directly following the scandal in which Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was caught and pilloried publicly for tweeting a semi-NSFW picture of his junk. The scandal has become a bit of a cautionary tale of the imagined dangers of fearless social networking- Weiner was a charismatic and capable user of social media- and many have wondered what implications the scandal will have for the microblogging service’s presumed safety in respect to those who are prominent in more traditional fields.

TweetCongress reports that activity from those in Congress on Twitter was down a whopping 28% last week- but there is one not-minor consideration when looking at the numbers:

The first day of that week, May 30, was Memorial Day. You’d expect tweet volume to be significantly down on a holiday, when all the members are busy pretending to enjoy backyard barbecues with their constituents. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if congressmen heard about Weiner’s “hack” and moved as far away as possible from their Twitters, lest some hacker come in and find all of their gross penis telegrams, too.

It would be pretty terrible if the scandal has a massive impact on what individuals who are subject to scrutiny feel they may or may not do online. Do you think the time has come to begin respecting online privacy as we would telephone calls or peering through an individual’s curtains? Is Weiner the perp or the victim in this scenario?