Post image for How technology could have stopped Anthony Weiner from himself

How technology could have stopped Anthony Weiner from himself

on June 17, 2011

Anthony Weiner wasn’t stupid. He knew what he was doing was wrong. Problem is he let another part of his body take over his better judgment.

“I don’t know what I was thinking,” he said.

That holds as much water as “It’s not you, it’s me.” We all know what Anthony Weiner was thinking. It’s just one organ beat out another in the “What is the rationale thing I should do” game. It reminded me of the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry knows he should break up with gorgeous but vapid Tawny Kitaen, yet in a mock game of chess, his brain keeps losing to his penis.

This is not a new story. The issue of proper judgment being superseded by an overstimulated sex drive has been going on for eons. What pains me is we actually have the technology to prevent our leaders, such as Weiner, from making such colossal career-ending mistake. The reason we haven’t used it or employed it is because everyone’s worried about “privacy.” Whatever. Looking back, I’m sure Weiner would have loved to have a little technological privacy invasion.

What I’m proposing is a “We’re not going to send that because it’ll damage your career”-type of privacy filter. A tool that looks at your career, the career of those you’re communicating with, and the content of what you’re sending, and simply blocks certain transmissions from happening. It’s similar to the alerts and shutdowns that are placed on a network. Anthony Weiner should have had the same auto-shutdown settings for his unpredictable communications.

The technology is all there. We just need to actually interconnect the solutions and deploy it for personal use. Here’s my advice of how it could be done:

Step 1 – Sender’s status dictates sensitivity control

A sensitivity setting dictates how much wiggle room a person has to send inappropriate digital content. The higher the person’s profile, the more sensitive, thereby disallowing most if not all errant sex pics. A high sensitive setting means you can’t screw around. Keep all digital messages on the up and up.

Utilizing LinkedIn we can determine a person’s job title. The lower the profile (e.g. stock boy at Foot Locker) there’s less sensitivity. Therefore, the guy shelving hi-tops will be able to get away with more risque online behavior than his company’s CEO.

Step 2 – Sender’s status distance from recipient dictates sensitivity control

Similar to sender’s status controlling sensitivity, the recipient’s status should also be taken into consideration. The further the distance between the two, the higher the sensitivity setting. For example, the service would block a CEO of a Fortune 100 company from coordinating a late night liaison with a 20-year-old college student.

Step 3 – Identify p*nis images

Companies such as Image Vision Labs have technology that can identify nudity in pictures. Large companies use it to scan out inappropriate content uploaded to their services. It’s currently not available for individuals to prevent themselves sending pics of their own p*nis.

Step 4 – Stop late night emails

Close to three years ago, Google introduced Mail Goggles, a simple add-on that would prevent you from sending emails late at night, by delaying the message and requiring you to do some simple math. Dubbed the “drunk email filter” the service required the user to actually think and solve simple math problems from 1am to 6am. If you can’t solve the messages in the predetermined time, the message doesn’t go.

Step 5 – Will you regret what you said?

ToneCheck is a service that checks the “tone” of your email and prevents you from sending an angry and highly copyable message. No reason this service couldn’t also be adapted for sexual innuendos and scheduling late night connections with a woman who isn’t your wife. Utilize the endless volume of spam blocking software to look out for sexually-charged keywords.

Step 6 – Apply service to all forms of messaging

All this technology should then be adopted for all forms of communications: Twitter, Facebook, blogging, email, SMS/MMS, and more. Apple has actually been working on an anti-sexting patent for years all in the guise of protecting teenagers. They’re not the ones who really need it. Congressmen do.

Stock photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

anonymous June 17, 2011 at 6:08 pm

We need politicians with rationale, not devices that disguise our politicians as rational.  The latter would only be disingenuous.

Bryan Cromlish June 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm

This is a great post David – Thanks for including ToneCheck in this post, we definitely think it could of helped Anthony

Bryan Cromlish
Lymbix Inc

David Spark June 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Since Anthony didn't have common sense, he needed some technological solutions like ToneCheck. :)

Facebook User June 21, 2011 at 7:13 pm

I disagree that we need more technology to stop ourselves from acting in a way that hurts ourselves and others (think of Anthony Weiner's spouse). 

We need more wisdom and compassion, not more gadgets or software. All these things make people lazy and make them feel they can put the responsibility on an inanimate object. 

Unfortunately nobody teaches compassion anymore. Wisdom is a word that seems to exist in ancient texts and is never ever raised in modern conversations.

Thinking carefully before opening our mouths (or in Anthony Weiner's case, unzipping his fly and pressing the click button on his phone) is so out of vogue right now. It's all about: multitasking, speed, and worst of all, the idea that if it feels good for me, that's all that counts. Until people realize it's not about the gadgets, that they are responsible for what happens around them, we will get more people like this making fools of themselves and hurting the people closest to them.

David Spark June 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Esme, I have to admit that I did write that piece not with all seriousness. Although my common joking nature doesn't come through in that piece. It was more of an argument to say that if we really wanted to, we could actually institute technology to save ourselves from being bumbling fools.

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