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UMSL Professor: Social Media + Politics = Potential Disaster

Brett Blume
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A few words of advice from a St. Louis political expert that New York City mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner, and many others, probably wishes they’d heeded.

“For Heaven’s sake, don’t put stuff on social media that you don’t want to live forever!,” says University of Missouri-St. Louis political science professor Dave Robertson. “If you want to say something wait at least 12 hours before you say it.”

Robertson points out that Weiner’s self-inflicted woes certainly aren’t the only textbook case of the pitfalls of social media for public figures — just the latest one.

“Sports figures, for example, have made plenty of mistakes and so have celebrities,” he tells KMOX News. “It’s a real opportunity to mess up — badly — and to show a terrible side to people.”

Anyone can make mistakes, he allows, especially if you consider we’re still in the infancy of using social media that can transmit even the most mundane idea or opinion around the globe in a heartbeat with the simple push of a button.

But it’s the repeat offenders like Weiner, who lost his seat in Congress two years ago over a previous texting scandal, that really perplex Robertson.

“Although you’re using a medium that has lots and lots of followers, you think that you’re immune I suspect,” he speculates. “First, you are an ‘advantaged person’ in a number of ways. And second, you think that you can get away with things with a little bit of a cover-up, like his pseudonym (Carlos Danger). But the idea that something you say is going to offend people, is going to create a scandal, may not be something you immediately realize.”

It’s likely that by now, Anthony Weiner realizes that his Twitter dalliances have indeed offended people.

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