The most recent allegations of Weiner’s extramarital online flirting were first published by a website called “The Dirty” — which, in taste and approach, is part of a recent proliferation of crowd-sourced gossip sites that have used social media to shift the boundaries of scandal in American life.
The Dirty first began in 2007 as a local gossip blog for Scottsdale, Ariz., taking advantage of ubiquitous smartphone cameras and social-media networking to publish user-submitted photos of local drunken college kids.
“It makes it so much more interesting to the reader because it’s reality, so it’s not Britney Spears or Paris Hilton — it’s in your own hometown,” The Dirty’s president and CEO, Ari Golden, told the Los Angeles Times in 2008. “It’s so much more interesting to see something about your neighbor or your co-worker.”
The site eventually started snaring minor celebrities in its fishnet hauls of local misbehavior; in 2008, the site posted photos that purported to show former USC quarterback Matt Leinart drinking with underage girls in Scottsdale. By 2010, the site had resisted a cease-and-desist order from lawyers for ESPN personality Erin Andrews and posted nude footage taken of her by a stalker through a hotel peephole.