Friday, June 03, 2011

Weinergate Analysis

Dan Wolfe's own screenshots show his advance knowledge of "inapporopriate" pic

I don't post all that often, but this week's hubub over a picture of an underwear-covered crotch bulge purportedly sent to a young woman by Rep. Anthony Weiner has inspired me to do some debunking.

First: Much credit is due to Cannonfire for their work in uncovering the gaping security hole (since closed) in yfrog's photo sharing setup.

Also: Much credit to the folks who contributed to this thread in which the yfrog exploit was tested and confirmed, and additional evidence as to the behavior of yfrog was gathered. See also, another thread participant's write up of this evidence

Now, the additional evidence:

When a photo is uploaded to yfrog, it is not sent to the assosciated Twitter account immediately. There is a delay of a few minutes between the photo appearing on yfrog, and it being sent to twitter. The way the photo appears on yfrog changes slightly after the tweet hits twitter, meaning that it is possible to place the timing of the yfrog screenshot Mr Wolfe took with some certainty. This was demonstrated with a willing volunteer's twitter/yfrog accounts in the above linked thread (the good stuff starts around post #300):

Before the image is tweeted:

After the image is tweeted:

Note that the twitter message with the photo link does not appear on the yfrog page until the message is sent out via twitter.

Compare the above photos with Dan Wolfe's screenshot of Weiner's yfrog page:

See anything missing? The twitter message is not there. This means that Wolfe's screenshot was taken BEFORE the message was ever sent out via twitter. There are two possible explanations for this:

  1. Mr Wolfe just happened to be browsing through Rep. Weiner's yfrog photos and noticed the picture and took a screenshot during the few minutes that the photo was up, or
  2. Wolfe is the person who uploaded the photo using the previously documented yfrog exploit. 
I'll let readers decide on the more likely explanation, but someone grabbing a screenshot of the photo BEFORE IT POSTED TO TWITTER is pretty unlikely unless they had some sort of advance knowledge.

This, combined with the previously documented inconsistencies in the photo's EXIF metadata screams right-wing smear attempt, and not-very-well-executed one at that.

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