Casey Anthony, Anthony Weiner and the Long Arm of the Web

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Food for thought on two high-profile cases with online behavior at the heart of them: As New York Congressman Anthony Weiner watches his political career go down in flames, following the release of an even cruder picture that he admitted today he tweeted, his naivete about social media is a “tweet road to oblivion,” as Washington Post op-ed writer E.J. Dionne Jr. puts it.

In an entirely different drama grabbing America’a (and the world’s) attention, the trial of Casey Anthony — the young woman accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee — is rife with evidence from online activities: Photobucket uploads, Facebook posts, MySpace images, and (today’s focus) cached web searches for incriminating terms (84 searches just on “chloroform”) on Wikipedia and Google, plus text messages and cellphone pings tracing her whereabouts.[more]

The jurors have been schooled in Google Adwords, how search engines work, the difference between Firefox and Chrome browsers, how web meanderings are all easily retraceable thanks to simple software, and disabused of any notion they may have had that there’s even a modicum of privacy online.

Both cases may fascinate as much for moral breaches (Weiner a lousy husband, Anthony a lousy — or worse — mother) as a reminder to what extent our “private” online lives are visible. 

While the seriousness of the charges facing them are night and day (Weiner is being pressured to resign by his fellow Democrats and by Republicans, under fire for lying about his online lechery and virtual cheating on his pregnant wife; Anthony faces a possible death penalty sentence), both are also being tried, and damned, in the court of public opinion. 

One of them, at least, is owning up to the truth; the other former social media gadabout is staying mum in a courtroom in Orlando.

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