It's yet another sign that the Internet remains the Wild West, despite moves to civilize it.
In 1992, the Computer Ethics Institute, a Washington-based public policy organization, actually released a "Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics," many of which lend themselves to Twitter users. Among them: "Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people," "Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness" and "Thou shalt always use a computer in ways that insure consideration and respect for your fellow humans." However, like the 1.0 version handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai, they've been frequently abused.
Which is why, cautions Lanson, it always pays to be skeptical.
"We live in (an Internet) world that's both instantaneous and a mirage," he says. "You never really know who you're dealing with."
Perhaps another president should take heed. In an interview that aired Monday night, Stephen Colbert convinced Bill Clinton to take up Twittering. The 42nd president's handle? "PrezBillyJeff." ("President Clinton" and "William Jefferson Clinton" were taken, Colbert maintained.)
Colbert helped Clinton dictate his first tweet to the account, which already has more than 60,000 followers. But since then, three other tweets, humorous posts on Ayn Rand and "Air Force Seven," have been published -- and deleted.
Watch your back, Mr. President.