Some politicians still, somehow, don't get the Internet

Ray Lam, a provincial NDP candidate in British Columbia, withdrew yesterday after several slightly off-colour photos of him were gleaned from his Facebook profile and injected into the public domain. Really, Ray? You couldn't see this one coming?

He claims he thought the photos were protected behind some kind of mythical privacy setting that occludes your most embarrassing snaps from public consumption. But anyone who has spent anytime on Facebook knows that if you've got embarrassing pictures, and somebody wants those pictures, there are any number of ways to access them. Particularly if you're using Facebook as a campaigning tool.

Now, the photos aren't particularly offensive. In fact, they're pretty vanilla. But they're the perfect kind of thing for an older, ostensibly more mature candidate to make their opponent look like a silly kid who has no business in public office. And - Surprise! - that's exactly what Liberal Mary McNeil did.

With all that in mind, I'm forced to conclude Mr. Lam is a bit of a dummy. When embarking on a political campaign, a prudent first step is to run a mental inventory of all your public profiles, identify potential liabilities, and delete them. And if Mr. Lam couldn't make that leap himself, the NDP presumably has a few people whose entire job is to figure this stuff out. But nobody did. So now one man's political career is over, and a political party looks stupid. All because there are people who still don't understand that, if it's on the Internet, it's basically a public document. Welcome to the 21st century, folks.

Then again, maybe I shouldn't be surprised. The BC NDP did have this disaster as a candidate once, too.