If you have been given a second or third chance to rebuild your reputation don’t ruin it with a bunch of sexts. Last night, The New York Post reported that former Congressman Anthony Weiner was sexting another woman who was not his wife. In the past five years, this is the third time he has been publicly caught for this type of behavior.
Weiner’s sexting cost him his job as a Congressman in 2011, his chance to become the mayor of New York City in 2013, and now his marriage. In addition to his marriage, multiple news organizations such as NY1 and The New York Daily News have either suspended or terminated their relationship with him. In other words, sexting has destroyed his personal life and his career as a politician/political pundit.
While the American public loves a great comeback story, this time may be different for Weiner. One of his sexts included a photo of his son lying next to him in bed with his shirt off. The sexts associated with his son may lead to an inquiry into potential child endangerment charges and/or utilized by his soon to be ex-wife wife in a custody battle. While the American public generally forgives those involved in sex scandals, they may not forgiving this time because a young child was unnecessarily dragged into Weiner’s troubling personal activities.
I have advised many clients over the years who have either lost their jobs due to sexting, been blackmailed due to dumb online posts, or had their personal lives destroyed (i.e. marriage dissolved or personal relationship ended) due to inappropriate social media activity. My job is to protect my clients’ reputation. Unfortunately, too often clients and potential clients contact me for counsel after an activity has been exposed. In general, if they would have been proactive and sought advice prior to their activity becoming public their post incident options would be much different.
During Weiner’s 2011 sexting scandal, I spoke with several media outlets about his social media behavior and the law. His 2013 sexting scandal and this current incident demonstrates continued poor judgement. It appears that in the five years since Weiner resigned from Congress due to inappropriate social media activity he hasn’t learned anything about social media, reputation, or personal privacy.
The bottom line is that you must be careful every time you send a digital message. You never know whom you are really talking with on the Internet.