Revealing Twitter Pics Plunge Professional Prospects

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twitter pics Here in the U.S. we have "Weinergate," which involves a picture of an underwear-sheathed appendage at full attention being Tweeted to a Seattle college student from the verified account of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY).

Both the student and the Congressman (who is pictured at left) deny knowing each other and claim it was a hack job, but it's wreaking havoc with Weiner's political reputation. Now there's a similar story coming out of Canada, also involving a picture, privates and a politician.

Over the weekend, a naked, full frontal photo was posted on the Twitter account of Progressive Conservative Party candidate George Lepp, for about 20 minutes until it was taken down by the politician's son, who administers the account.

Once again, a hijacked Twitter account has cast a not-so-flattering light on a little-known politician. That raises the question, could your Twitter account be a ticking time bomb, professionally speaking?

Here's what happened in Canada: The Toronto Sun quoted Alan Sakach, communications director for the Ontario Conservatives as saying that the photo must have been accidentally taken by Lepp's BlackBerry when it was in his front pants pocket and left on camera mode. Lepp's camera was later stolen, and the graphic but grainy photo of the family jewels showed up on his website.

Lepp denies this story, however, claiming that his cell phone was stolen while he was being jostled by a crowd, and that the thief must have taken the picture and posted it -- but that the package pictured was not his.

The photo was too graphic to re-post or print, but just judging by the description of the image, it seems unlikely that the photo was taken inadvertently. Lepp would probably have had to be wearing transparent underpants or going commando if his BlackBerry accidentally took the shots.

Now Sakach is denying that he gave that explanation to a reporter. "Nobody ever suggested to the media that this photo was George Lepp and any suggestion to the contrary is false," Sakach told a local newspaper, the Niagra Forterie Times.

The Toronto Sun has published an article giving Lepp's account of what happened, but is standing by the original story, and has no plans for any sort of correction or retraction.

A likely scenario is that the publicist offered an explanation to the reporter before he spoke to the candidate, and that whoever posted the photo might have been inspired by the scandal in the U.S.

Regardless of who is responsible, it affirms that extra security measures need to be taken on Twitter accounts to avoid serious professional or political damage.

Lepp, is a Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., farmer and businessman, running as a Niagara Falls Progressive Conservative, attempting to become the Tory candidate in the provincial district of Niagara Falls for October's election.


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