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editorial

The ghost in Scott Brown’s iPhone

Smartphones do things that once seemed inconceivable: They hold your music collection; they track subway trains; they correct your spelling, sometimes in embarrassing ways. But one thing they can’t easily do while jostling about in your pocket — despite what former Senator Scott Brown seemed to suggest in a recent interview — is tweet by themselves.

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One Friday night last month, Brown responded to a series of antagonistic Twitter posts with several of his own: “whatever bud,” “whatever michael,” and, famously, “Bqhatevwr.” An obvious explanation would have been that Brown had decided on a lark to engage with his critics. But in an interview with Fox 25 over the weekend, Brown claimed instead that, after getting tips from his daughter on how to use Facebook and Twitter and then replying to a few people, he put his iPhone in his pocket. The next morning, he said, his comments were trending worldwide. He asked, “Anyone ever hear of a ‘pocket tweet,’ ‘pocket dial’?”

Actually, the last in a series of now-deleted Brown tweets — “Your brilliant Matt” — almost surely didn’t type and send itself. Phones don’t work like that, at least not yet. But the episode fit Brown’s suburban-dad persona in at least one way: He wouldn’t be the first tech-shy parent whose early brushes with social media involved a burst of unconstrained enthusiasm, followed by a bout of tweeter’s remorse.

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