Compliance Lessons from Weinergate

In a tearful statement to the media, Rep. Anthony Weiner admitted he posted a lewd picture of his anatomy to Twitter. Not only that, he says he's engaged in "inappropriate" online communications with at least six other women.

It was just a few days ago that I revisited the Fabulous Fab Rule:

Don't write emails so provocative that they wind up reproduced on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

That rule is focused on email which for many companies is archived for years. That means it could end up in litigation or an enforcement action. The rule is really applicable to any type of publishing.

The internet has turned us all into publishers, or at least given us the ability to be publishers. Traditional publishers have layers of review before information, stories, and pictures get published. On the internet, the only layer of review is your common sense. That's all that stands between you and that send button.

Weinergate is just another example of failed common sense. He never should have hit that send button.

I have not found anything new in the scandal. I don't think you need a new policy prohibiting people from sending pictures of themselves in their underwear. (I suppose there is an exception if you are in the adult entertainment industry.) Common sense should take care of that.

I suppose its useful to compare this to Eliot Spitzer. He had his own sex scandal, but it required a government investigation. Weiner merely shot himself by sending out a public message.

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For additional commentary on developments in compliance and ethics, visit Compliance Building, a blog hosted by Doug Cornelius.

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