Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What cheating politicians can learn from Osama bin Laden

While social media has helped elect candidates, it has been their undoing as well. New York Rep. Anthony Weiner wasn't the first politician to send shirtless photos of himself to women -- Rep. Chris Lee (R - N.Y.) resigned in February for pulling the same stunt.

It's about time somebody gave politicians with itchy pants a lesson in the do's and dont's of social media. Oh sure, they can hire all the "social media gurus" they want -- you can't go into a pizza joint these days without bumping into at least a few these experts, glued to their smart phones, reading their Twitter feeds and making notes on some arcane study they just read that will change their clients' fortunes around on Facebook.

But if there was one guy who really knew what he was doing in social media was Osama bin Laden. He was on the run and hiding for nearly 10 years, got away with multiple wives (forget about the periodic Las Vegas blackjack dealer), and nobody sold his texts to Radar Online.

Although he is no longer with us, bin Laden had a social media policy that clearly could not be beat when it came to escaping detection. It was pretty simple too.

1) He had no telephone.

2) His computer was not hooked up to the Internet.

3) He put his e-mails on a portable flash drive and his associate sent them from a distant Internet cafe.

That's a social media policy that won't get you in trouble. At least for 10 years. Of course, if you arranged to have your mistresses and girlfriends actually living with you, it would be hard for a tabloid to dangle a pot of money to fork over those hot and heavy texts and e-mails.

I am sure there are plenty of shrinks who will look at guys like Weiner and Lee and say: "They were sloppy because underneath it all, they wanted to get caught." Maybe so. Or maybe the Beltway and local politics is full of those abhorred "social media gurus" on contract who clearly were more worried about making their videos viral than doling out intelligent safety tips to their bosses.

Somebody has got to give movers and shakers better lessons on covering up their web tracks, and choosing their girlfriends better. A big red flag should go up especially when dealing with porn stars, because they are unquestionably the most untrustworthy mistresses to keep -- this is just common sense public relations advice that you could have gotten reading any story about Charlie Sheen earlier this year.

Clearly bin Laden had viewed enough conspiracy thrillers in his compound's home theater to know that there's no privacy these days. He must have seen "Eagle Eye" -- Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan chased all over town by an out of control military computer which even manipulated the traffic lights and made personal cell phone calls to them. Even bin Laden knew that Twitter was a public platform and stayed away.

My advice to those in office who feel the urge to befriend cute college students across the country is: move to a cave, burn your cell phone, desktop and tablet, and let your assistants dispatch your messages, so you won't be prone to writing something stupid that you wouldn't want them to see. And keep your damn shirt on.

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