- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 29, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Every American should be absolutely outraged about WeinerGate. Outraged! If you haven’t yet heard, here’s what happened: Some horrible computer whiz hacked into Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Facebook account over the weekend and somehow sent a lewd photograph through Twitter to someone in Seattle. (Don’t ask how the hacker broke into Facebook and somehow tweeted - he’s a hacker).

It’s “obvious,” the New York Democrat told Politico about the obvious hacking. “The weiner gags never get old, I guess,” the lawmaker joked.

Well, the New York Democrat may find it humorous, but there’s nothing funny about this at all. If a hacker can simply take over your Facebook account and send a picture of a man’s bulging privates - through Twitter! - every American should be terrified.

But lets be proactive here. Should this happen to you, the first thing to do is to go onto your Twitter account and delete the photo. Don’t hold it for authorities, just get rid of that photo. Next, delete all your photos, every single one. Then, for the next few hours, make jokes on Twitter about how you’ve been hacked.

Remember, there’s no sense in reporting the episode to the police, the FBI, even if you are a federal lawmaker. C’mon, how could anyone possibly catch this guy? The hacker was so smart he sent the photo to just one female Twitter user, but somehow made sure it was visible to all of Mr. Weiner’s nearly 50,000 followers.

Best to just delete the photo and move on. And in this case, best if the recipient deletes her account quickly so we can all get back to our lives. Sure, it’s a coincidence that the 21-year-old woman who received the lewd weiner image is (as reported by the appropriately named blog “Ironic Surrealism”) a journalism student at a small college. And sure, it’s a weird coincidence that the woman reportedly tweeted last month: “I wonder what my boyfriend @RepWeiner is up to right now.”

But that just goes to show you what grave danger we’re all in from these wily hackers. Some computer geek out there is no doubt scouring the House website right now for his next victim. If only there was another lawmaker married to a top aide for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In this case, though, thank God that Mr. Weiner caught the photo so quickly.

“The tech-savvy congressman saw the picture almost immediately,” the New York Post wrote Sunday. “He had been tweeting about a hockey game just a few minutes earlier.”

Well, not a few minutes, according to the biggovernment.com website, which said the lawmaker “had been publicly silent for 3 hrs. and 24 mins. prior to the Tweeting of the inappropriate image.” Eh, whatever. A few minutes, 204 minutes, splitting hairs.

But let’s make just sure we all get on the same page here, people.

Rep. Anthony Weiner says social-networking identity hacking is to blame for the lewd material that …,” the Politico story opens. “The wiener shot was the work of an unknown wag - a computer hacker who gained access to the pol’s passwords, his spokesman told the [New York] Post.” Said the New York Daily News: “Weiner jokes apparently never grow old.” (Note to reporters out there: If you cant think of a lede, just take the words of whomever youre writing the article about. Stop all that worrying about objectivity.)

It was a hacker, people; it’s obvious. Nothing to see here; no need to investigate - a hacker, period. Mr. Weiner said so; his spokesman said so. That should be enough for all of you.

And it’s really not all that bad: Just keep a constant eye on your Twitter feed, and if someone does hack into it and fires out a lewd picture, you’ll probably be able to wrest control of your account back from the intruder and delete the photo within, oh, say, four minutes.

But wait: Say you’re not able to police your own Twitter feed 24/7. And say someone does get away with hacking your account (as is clearly the case in WeinerGate). Well then, certainly the authorities ought to check into the whole mess, track down that vile hacker and punish him (or her) to the fullest extent of the law.

We can only hope that Mr. Weiner will demand just such an investigation. For if someone in such a powerful position is vulnerable to this kind of attack, what chance have we got against the Internet trolls? Just be thankful that all this has happened to a federal lawmaker, who will see to it that the FBI finds this hacker. And then the World Wide Web will once again be safe for all of us. And Weiner-free.

Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at jcurl@washingtontimes.com.