Weinergate. This term was coined in 2011 after Anthony Weiner, a married, Democratic US Congressman, used social media to send women sexual explicit pictures and messages. The media frenzy started after Weiner did a series of interviews where he denied sending those photos and suggested that his accounts had been hacked. In June of 2011, Weiner finally held a press conference, where he apologized and admitted to having both sexual conversations and sending the inappropriate sexual photos of himself. He stated he never met the women or had a physical relationship with any of them. On June 20, 2011, Weiner resigned and then said he was working to fix his marriage to his wife, Huma Abedin, who he had married only 11 months earlier and who was a long-time aid to Hilary Clinton. I wouldn’t have wanted to be him.
Now Weiner is back. He’s running for the Mayor of New York. And he is still talking dirty to women other than his wife.
In June 2011, my article on sexting and infidelity in cyberspace, was picked up by the media. For a University professor, whose research usually doesn’t get noticed at all, it was quite exciting to be interviewed by the LA Times, USA today, New York Times and many others. I was asked frequently during those interviews to discuss Anthony Weiner. They wanted to know if I thought he actually met the women in person. While I figured Mr. Weiner had enough trouble without me helping the matter, off the record I told them I believed he had met women in person.
Why would I think that? I began conducting research about online sex in 1992 when I was working on both my masters and Ph.D. at UCSB. In fact, I began conducting research when individuals had to use dial-up in order to gain access to various BB’s (bulletin board)!! In my article about “sex over the internet,” I found that over 57% of both men and women in my sample stated they had met someone face-to-face after meeting them online. Almost 20 years later, my more current research showed that 66% of all respondents had met someone in person after meeting them online.
Getting to know someone on social media sites, gives individuals different options that they might not otherwise have. Because their sexual interest in one another is good online, they want to take it farther. So they meet. Why would Anthony Weiner be any different? He has lied, cheated, and humiliated his wife. Why would he do anything different to New Yorkers if given the chance.