Was THIS What Happened in #Weinergate?

Many people have how coule @RepWeiner do something so stupid? It may not be stupid…

It may be a tech issue.

This from the comments at Patterico…

You ask how it could be done accidentally, and actually it’s quite simple. Direct messages, especially longer ones, are often split by the cell phone provider… the first part of the message will go to the recipient as a direct message, the second part will be treated as an @recipient and posted to the general twitter feed.
Thus if the good representative had added a bit of copy to explain the photo.. like what a great deal he got at Target when he went shopping, and added the yfrog link at the end his provider could have split off the link and it would have continued on as a general post.

Comment by Hunt — 5/31/2011 @ 11:48 am

And sure enough…

How to Send a Private Message From Your Phone:

In addition to sending direct messages from the web, you can also send direct messages from your phone and most 3rd party applications.

  1. Open a text message window to your Twitter short code, or logging in to your application
  2. Begin your message with a letter "d" and the username of the follower your wish to message, like this: d olivia
  3. Type your message, being careful not to exceed 140 characters. (Example: d Support Hey support! Thanks for your help.)
  4. Send the message

Note: If your message is longer than 140 characters and Twitter receives it intact, we will send your message in two parts for you. But, beware: if your service provider breaks up long messages into two parts before sending the message to Twitter, we will only see the d+username attached to the first message! The second part will post to the public time line as a regular update because it doesn’t have the d+username preceding it.

Huge h/t to @Romanflute and Hunt!!


  1. You get an A+ for effort here, man.

  2. I’ve had messages on my Blackberry split many times because of this. Never in my wildest dreams did I think this small phone quirk would lead to such a huge problem. I’m in no way excusing Weiner, but yeah, I wonder how I would have reacted if something personal btw my spouse and I ended up public because of this function. Wow.

  3. While I don’t find the topic terribly newsworthy, in and of itself, I’m always fascinated. What is the truth? And will the denial tactic work? Because the reality is, everything in the digital world has a fingerprint, and unless it was a hacker going through a TOR router (something easy enough to determine), then who did it can be easily figured out. If it was transmitted by phone, then . . . either the “hacker” has stolen Weiner’s phone, or Weiner did it.

    But also, I have some liberal friends who are the first to pounce of the faintest whiff of scandal with a Republican immediately dismissing this story as something faked . . . by Breitbart! Such reactions also make me more interested in sussing out the facts.

  4. I think stupidity is still the appropriate charge (among others). Sending a crotch pic to a young female not your wife is not a wise action for a sitting congressman, if it ever is for anyone else.

    The indiscretion, the non-utility of the gesture, along with the vanity and immaturity it bespeaks point to Stupid o’clock with the big stupid-hand.

  5. “The second part will post to the public time line as a regular update because it doesn’t have the d+username preceding it”

    Could be… but how does yfrog work into this?

  6. “The second part will post to the public time line as a regular update because it doesn’t have the d+username preceding it”

    Question on this, if this happened would it still post with the @ ? From reading it sounds like it wouldn’t. For example

    “d@stranahan XYZ123” gets split. “XYZ” goes in a direct message, “123” posts to my timeline as is with no @stranahan.

  7. But what about the fact that the yfrog image would have been public even if it were sent in a DM? Weren’t you talking about that on Twitter?

  8. Soren/Adam (since you both are talking about yfrog): So, with my blackberry, if I take a picture and select to send it to twitter, I see a input line pop up where I can type in some caption for the picture (i.e. an actual case from mid May, “A cicada on #Vanderbilt campus #fb”). I don’t have to worry about the picture’s url. Then I hit “send” and the url for the picture gets attached to it: “A cicada on #Vanderbilt campus #fb http://yfrog.com/h4yi3bhj“; this gets posted to Twitter with the embedded Yfrog link and if you were to go to yfrog, you’d see the picture there.

    Presumably, Weiner started his tweet with “d @username ” to denote a private message, followed by whatever text/caption he wanted to add. In theory, he’s under his character limit and thinks nothing is awry and hits send. And normally all of that would have been privately sent. BUT, when the yfrog url was added, this took it over the 140-character limit, his service provider broke it into 2 parts, the second part of which was sent publicly. Unfortunately for him, that included the link to the pic. This also explains why his timeline shows a pic but no message before it (most people would send accompanying text): it was DM. So, Weiner, now seeing it come up in his timeline 4-minutes later (which is approximately how often a TweetDeck or Hootsuite might refresh), he goes to yfrog and deletes it. And, because he’s frazzled, deletes all his pictures with it.

    But someone saw the pic link, followed it, copied it and Weiner was forced to create a hack/prank story. When the truth is usually more simple: he (like most of us) didn’t consider his tweet being split in twain.

  9. Soren,

    That doesn’t explain what I’m asking. If you send a yfrog picture, even via DM, it’s still publicly available through your yfrog account. So why would Weiner use a yfrog account in the first place, given that it would be public even if he had successfully sent it as a DM?

  10. Adam: Is there a way to send a pic through Twitter that doesn’t result in the picture being hosted off-site (i.e. Twitpic, Yfrog)? Obviously, I can take a picture with my bberry and send it to your phone and there’s no public record but that’s only possible if I know your phone number. If all I have is your Twitter account name, what are my options for sending you pics?

  11. And the phone accidentally sent the pic to the one woman (not Weiner’s wife) who called Weiner her boyfriend on Twitter?

    Hey, I guess that could be possible too.

  12. what adam says basically defeats this theory as a logical explanation – anything posted on yfrog is already public, so uploading this pic to his yfrog account would be idiotic for a DM.

  13. also, re the girl saying she was his girlfriend/boyfriend whatever, do you know how many chicks have crushes on weiner? its pretty sick.

  14. milowent @8:48;

    Only one I know of tweeted that Weiner was her boyfriend before getting the “surprise package” photo. coincidence? Or, maybe, “just and accident”.

  15. millowent @8:47: While uploading the pic to yfrog is idiotic, that doesn’t mean this theory is then dead. Politicians have done idiotic things before and certainly will in the future.

    And it also doesn’t explain why he would erase everything — if it was, as he says, a prank, why get rid of all the non-offending pictures in yfrog? That’s a serious question; I’m willing to follow you down this line of thought as an exercise. But I’m struck by that action; if someone hacked my facebook account and stuck a lewd picture on it, why would I erase hundreds of other pictures that were non-offensive?

  16. Its Dick Cheney’s erection in the underpants, not Weiner’s wiener. Bush is the hacker and the walrus is Paul.

  17. God, I’m fuckin Old.

    What the hell is DM? RT? And why does everything have to have a Goddamn # in front of it?

  18. Repeating what Jeremy asked above:
    “The second part will post to the public time line as a regular update because it doesn’t have the d+username preceding it”
    Question on this, if this happened would it still post with the @ ? From reading it sounds like it wouldn’t. For example
    “d@stranahan XYZ123? gets split. “XYZ” goes in a direct message, “123? posts to my timeline as is with no @stranahan. End Jeremy quote.

    The part that posted to the public timeline had @Genette(etc) and the link.
    Also, a pic posted to twitter is autoposted to the associated photo service, twitpic or yfrog, no?
    Without you doing anything to post it there? The yfrog service had pics and links Weiner had posted, the links were still there last time I looked. RepW may not have known about the yfrog page, but may have called someone who told him to check it?

  19. Can anyone help with this one… I have a friend who is out of the country for several months, to be nice I copied some pics of his daughter from her bf and sent them to him in an email, just to help in stay in touch on her different looks (she’s 15) during this six months. He isn’t able to access fb while on ship for the six months. anyway, when he hopened one of the email messages from me, with pics attached, he get this page from fb, that lets him click on options, one of the options says messages 58 (i had 58 messages in my message in box), when he clicks on that, it takes him straight into my messages (that are just between me and …) and it seems as long as he keeps that email, he can always get into my messages, he doesn’t need a password or anything, it just takes him straight in. how can i either totally delete and thread from the email that I sent him or somehow block my already private messages… I don’t know how to fix this, i don’t want him to always be able to get into my private messages… he tends to be nosy and a bit stalkish…. please help

  20. when he clicks on a pic(in yahoo email) that i sent him from fb, this is what opens.
    so where it says See All Messages64 unread all he has to do is click on it and he goes right into my in box messages in fb… help

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