Couple Crashes State Dinner: Facebook Photos Could Lead to Criminal Investigation

Photo courtesy of http://www.cbsnews.com

The White House state dinner is a star-studded event. It’s the golden opportunity for A-list celebrities to rub elbows with political bigwigs. Last week’s state dinner was no different. The guest list included names such as President Obama, Jennifer Hudson, Steven Spielberg and the man of the hour, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

There were two faces in the crowd, however, who were not on the list. Michaele and Tareq Salahi, dubbed “America’s most successful party crashers” in this article from CBS news, managed to get into the party without ever being invited. And their night of hobnobbing with the rich and famous would have been a success if they hadn’t posted photos of themselves at the event on their public Facebook page. According to the same CBS article, their page included photos of the couple posing with prominent politicians, journalists, a group of Marines and even Vice President Joe Biden.

The photos not only earned them national attention, they also caught the attention of the Secret Service. Now those photos could result in a criminal investigation. The Secret Service is investigating how the couple managed to get past security at the high-powered event. The investigation could result in criminal charges.

Throughout the semester, we have discussed ways social media can be used to benefit our lives and our careers. I think this is a prime example of a way in which it can be harmful. I can’t imagine this couple ever thought of the repercussions of posting these photos online. Instead, I’m guessing they just wanted to show-off—especially since they’re up for a spot in the new “Real Housewives of D.C.” line-up set to air on Bravo.

I think we can learn a lot from this couple’s mistake. Though it may not be so drastic, things we say and do online can have negative consequences. Those photos from the bars last weekend might be great, but your future employer might not think so. And hopefully, they don’t result in a criminal investigation.

What do you guys think of this? Is the Secret Service overreacting, or are they justified in their response to the photos? Do you know of a time when posting something on a social media site has had negative consequences? How about positive consequences?

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10 responses to “Couple Crashes State Dinner: Facebook Photos Could Lead to Criminal Investigation

  1. This whole scenario is too funny. Yeah of course they wanted the whole world to know they were at that party so they posted the pictures thinking oh this will get some press. I’m not surprised because that’s what people thriving to get on television do. Remember Balloon boy?

  2. I think the situation for this crashing couple is a prime example of how one decision can have repercussions that can be felt long after the event. I do not think that the Secret Service is overreacting, I would also be concerned how people who were not on the list managed to slip through the most secure sites in our country. This incident should be a learning lesson for a lot of us–yeah those pictures might be “cool,” but your future employer, parents, ect. won’t think so. A video or photo uploaded to a social media site can alter the image you worked a lifetime to build in a second. So think twice before you tag those photos.

    • I completely agree. If this couple was able to sneak past Secret Service, who else did? I am very interested to find out how these two crashed this party. This could’ve been a very bad thing. What if someone with ill intentions had been able to slip in?

  3. Okay, if I’m going to be perfectly honest, when I first heard about this, I was slightly impressed. I mean, they snuck into a STATE DINNER with the PRESIDENT of the United States?! Sounds like the premise of an Ocean’s Eleven-esque flick.

    The next emotion (which followed very soon after the first) was similar to Clara’s however. There’s no way that should have happened. The Secret Service special investigation is definitely necessary. And as the Salahis have learned, so is a little self-control when posting that personal info online.

  4. I think this is a really serious matter and I don’t think the Secret Service are reacting at all. It’s funny how often smart people do stupid things. For example, if you’re going to “break in” to a state dinner with the president, why would you post those photos on Facebook? You obviously have the smarts to pull it off, but why would you incriminate yourself by posting those photos on the Web?

  5. I don’t think the Secret Service is overreacting here. These people snuck into a state dinner, which is very concerning, considering that the White House is supposed to be one of the most secure places in our country. Also, like Clara mentioned, those Facebook photos can lead to a lot more than a few Sunday afternoon laughs. Clearly, this couple didn’t see a criminal investigation in their future.

  6. I agree with all of you guys. I don’t think the Secret Service is overreacting, but I do think this couple made a huge mistake posting these pictures. I think they were just trying to get publicity for their chance on a show on national television. I bet they didn’t expect this kind of publicity though. Can you guys think of any other situations where people posted things on social media sites and it ended up with bad publicity when it was meant to bring them positive attention?

  7. Also, check out this post on our class blog. https://drakej70.wordpress.com/2009/11/23/the-laws-race-to-keep-up-with-technology/
    The two posts are kind of related.

  8. OMG, you guys HAVE to read this. The Party Crashers are actually doing an interview for top dollar bids. This story makes me sick…

    http://insidetv.aol.com/2009/11/29/white-house-gatecrashers-shopping-story-to-networks/?icid=main|aim|dl2|link1|http%3A%2F%2Finsidetv.aol.com%2F2009%2F11%2F29%2Fwhite-house-gatecrashers-shopping-story-to-networks%2F

  9. WOW. That’s really all I have to say about that.

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