It seems a prominent politician’s Facebook account has been hacked, leading to an embarrassing series of screenshots going public. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Lovely Warren is in hot water, again. This time for allegedly sending out a scathing FU message to someone on Facebook – none of the reports are saying to whom the message was sent. The official response? Oh, man:

The mayor’s office says that there are several people who have access to Warren’s official and personal accounts, and she is working to see where the message in question came from.

Here is the portion of the conversation attributed to Lovely Warren’s account:

A portion of the conversation which has been attributed to Lovely Warren's account.

A portion of the conversation which has been attributed to Lovely Warren’s account.

She has since shut down both her personal and official accounts “until further notice.” So, let’s ask a few basic forensic questions.

7 Questions for Lovely Warren

  1. According to the screenshot, this appears to be a Private Message on Facebook. To whom was this message addressed?
  2. Let’s not assume anything. Do we even know that the offending message was sent from Lovely Warren’s account? Just because the Mayor’s Office says it is so? All that I see is a “chat head” with Warren’s picture on it?
  3. If indeed it was sent from a Lovely Warren account, from which account was this sent? Her personal account or the Fan Page?
  4. If it was her personal account, Facebook keeps a record of every IP address and login, including the “user agent,” or the software being used to access the account. Has this been checked? Or not?
  5. If it was her Fan Page, these types of accounts are not allowed to message someone directly unless they’ve been written a message by that fan first. Most Fan Page admins disable messaging primarily for this reason. Why was this option not disabled on Lovely Warren’s Fan Page?
  6. Fan Pages can also have multiple editors: any number of people can use the Page and post messages. Facebook has a good breakdown of which user roles can do what, and not all of them can send messages. Are all her editors administrators?
  7. Every editor’s activity can be logged, since they’re separate user accounts. Was none of this done with the Lovely Warren Fan Page? Was everybody just logging in as Warren to access her public page?

I could prattle on about the security aspects of this. Unsecured accounts and all that. Update: There are also legal questions, which I address here. How many more and how many mission critical accounts are sharing passwords? But really, this is just dumb, dumb, dumb social media flub for which the Mayor’s Office and Lovely Warren herself need some organized answers, soon.

Every elected leader gets a bit of a honeymoon when they get elected to a new position, and so does Lovely Warren. Media outlets write articles praising said pol’s rise to power, fellow politicians speak glowingly of partnerships to come. Those who voted for the politician bathe in victory and the defeated sulk in silence. It is a time to do magnanimous if meaningless things. It is a time to make grand gestures about coming together and solving problems.

It is also, most critically, an opportunity to use the good humor of the media and the public to maybe make some important moves that will pay dividends down the line. Unpopular reforms might go less-noticed. People might be willing to go on record being more generous than at some later point in one’s administration.

All of this is especially true if you’re the first female mayor of the City of Rochester. Regardless of one’s personal political preferences, this is a big moment for Rochester. It’s a big moment for women in Rochester, if it is one far too long in coming. Now is a time to take the kumbaya moment of a great victory for equality and turn it into legitimate political capital.

This is really not a time to hire your uncle to an $80k job you invented for dubious reasons, then sneak out of a traffic ticket on vague grounds of executive privilege. And those are just the Clift’s Notes of the last few weeks. Instead of magnanimous, we are left with the ignominious.

Late Update: @rachbarnhart (Rachel Barnhart of Channel 8) reports via Twitter that there is in fact no such executive privilege:

None of this is really news, of course. Lots of politicians squander their goodwill moment with stupid things, but generally, they’re stupid political grabs. Typically, they’re efforts to thank campaign donors that could have waited a few months or hirings and firings that would have looked less political with less media attention.

This? This is just a Keystone Cops version of a transition to power, only uglier. Hardly Lex Luther territory; more like rotten groceries: unpleasant, disappointing and off-putting. Pure face plant politics, filled with exactly the kind of stupidly privileged acts that everyone is just waiting for a politician to commit. Well, two weeks in and the wait is over.

But I’ve been pretty harsh on Mayor Richards and ended up respecting him. Really, this fiasco will mellow out in months and everyone will forget about it. Assuming there aren’t more landmines in our future, this is not a debilitating controversy. In the meanwhile, if there was some less-than-popular decision Mayor Lovely Warren had hoped to sneak by while we were still bathing in the afterglow, she can forget it.