My inevitable Facebook scandal

Does it count if someone else is cupping my chest?
Does it count if someone else is cupping my chest?

If and when I run for office again, and if and when I am taken seriously enough that someone more effective and influential than the editor of Now magazine’s website decides to try and dig up some embarrassing photos of me (sorry Josh, but seriously, that was the best you could do?), they will not have a difficult time.

I belong to a generation that has grown up on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. (Heck, I’m pretty sure I even have a neglected MySpace page floating around somewhere…oh yeah, there it is.) As a result, many of my most candid and ill-advised moments have been and will continue to be documented and made public. 99% of the time, I’m not even the one posting them. The tools of the social web allow anyone to not only upload photos and videos of me, but also to tag me in them for easy searching and indexing.

Exploring someone’s online presence has become a way of doing a quick-and-easy background check. Often, maybe even most of the time, that’s a perfectly legitimate thing. If a political candidate has, oh, I don’t know, made homophobic remarks, or dropped LSD while driving, or gotten naked with a bunch of minors (all entirely hypothetical examples off the top of my head, of course) those are probably things I want to know about, and they may or may not influence whether or not I vote for that person.

But we should also, I think, back away from the assumption that the second someone uncovers some photos of a candidate goofing around with friends or demonstrating a momentary lapse in judgment that automatically means the candidate must resign. Commenting on the recent resignation of BC NDP candidate Ray Lam, even NDP Leader Carole James seemed a bit uncomfortable with how things went down. “It’ll be interesting to watch politics over the next 10 to 15 years,” she said, “when you have an entire generation of young people who’ve grown up with their lives public on Facebook and on Twitter. It’ll be very interesting to see how that shifts.”

Hopefully it will shift like this. If someone has demonstrated a pattern of bad judgment, or done or said something highly objectionable, they should answer for it. But one or two “gotcha” photos? Should that really disqualify one from public service? Ultimately it’s up to voters to decide, but I tend to think not.

13 thoughts on “My inevitable Facebook scandal

  1. That NDP candidate was “caught” doing something in a picture that some people would not do. There are elected federal MPs with the old line parties in Canada who have shown through their voting record in parliament that they support bills that I definitely don’t. http://www.howdtheyvote.ca/

    So, is this an important issue that warrants the removal of this person from candidacy? Not in my opinion. I’d like to meet the guy and ask him a few questions before I make a character judgment. Still, it apparently “embarrasses the provincial NDP” and in the eyes of some voters/supporters his behavior was “unbecoming” of a candidate.

    Let they who have not sinned cast the first stone. Nobody? Thought so.

  2. Given the ubiquity of cameras and the persistence of data, it’s only a matter of time before we’re all naked on the Internet. You’re ahead of the curve :)

  3. Way to go Chris. I don’t think that non-scandals or non-political scandals are… political scandals. We need honest, candid and transparent politicians like yourself.

  4. I agree with you that one or two photos shouldn’t disqualify someone from public service, but if public service is your aspiration, shouldn’t you have the forethought to simply take down those one or two photos with the potential to offend before running for office? One shouldn’t be disqualified from public service for openly proclaiming they dislike children, but that doesn’t make it an intelligent campaign move either.

  5. …shouldn’t you have the forethought to simply take down those one or two photos…

    Much easier said than done. The internet is not a bulletin board with paper photos that can be removed at will. Once they’ve been seen, they’ve been downloaded (at least to your browser cache). Once they’ve been downloaded, they can surface at anytime from almost anyone.

    It is quite possible that the attempt to “pull down” embarrassing photos will be portrayed as an attempted cover-up. Cover-ups are often the basis of bigger scandals than the actual event being covered-up.

    JB

  6. JB’s right.
    On a side note, never assume your blogging will remain anonymous
    SDA’s minions are taking glee from revealing the identity of Leftdog. He’s supposedly pulled some things down off his blog, but there’s no point doing that really.

  7. Hmm, comment lost?
    JB is right.
    Bloggers should not expect to remain anonymous. SDA trolls are taking glee in revealing Leftdog’s identity recently
    suckdogpolitics.blogspot.com/

  8. I was going to link to your pic from another site, and ask if this was from the post McNally book signing party, but I figured that was too mean…

  9. Ray created a web 2.0 response to this whole thing because of all the media spin and misinformation around his resignation.

    His statement on the home page is…unbelievable tame, and he writes about the whole incident in a blog, which is actually pretty interesting.

    Give it a read: http://www.raysunderwearaffair.com.

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