Wow… I don’t know of many other scandals that could have been prevented with a simple one-character change on a text message, but that’s exactly how Anthony Weiner got caught with his pants down (sorry, that’s my freebie, I’ll keep it above the belt from now on). The embattled representative accidentally shared a picture of his nether-regions on Twitter for all the world to see, and all because he didn’t understand the difference between a DM and a mention or reply.
If you haven’t checked your email, read a blog, watched the news, or spoken to a friend today, you’ll not have heard that NY Democratic representative Anthony Weiner admitted that the lewd Twitter photo that has been haunting him was indeed taken, and shared, by him and not by hackers as he had originally claimed.
And no one would have had to see the unfortunate underwear photo had Weiner simply brushed up on the difference between a DM and a reply. Oh, and also got the name of the person he meant to send the photo to correct… but that’s no biggie.
For all of the potential Weiners out there, here’s a quick crash-course:
A DM, or Direct Message, on Twitter can only be seen by the sender and recipient. It is a private message that you can only send to one of your followers who is also following you. In other words, you both must be following each other in order for a DM to be sent. To create a DM, simply start your tweet with “d username” and type the message you wish to send.
A mention or a reply on Twitter can be sent to anyone, whether you follow them or not. A mention is a tweet which includes the username of the person you want to “tag” in the tweet, but it does not begin with that username; a reply does begin with a username. Here’s a more detailed distinction of the difference between mentions and replies, but the important thing to know in this situation is that mentions and replies are public while DMs are private.
Anything that you tweet which does not begin with a “d” and then the username of an individual can be seen by anyone.
Weiner apparently didn’t know that, and he sent his bulging underpants photo to a poor college co-ed using a reply instead a DM.
On a related note, the college student that Weiner tweeted this scandalous photo to has repeatedly said that is wasn’t meant for her, so I guess that means that Weiner also got the username wrong. Two mistakes in one tweet… and what a tweet it was.