Dec. 10, 2009— -- Tiger Woods. Sen. John Ensign. Kwame Kilpatrick. All were well-respected public figures at the top of their game who were disgraced in part because allegations of misconduct came to light through text messages.
Woods, who is married with two young children, reputedly sent hundreds of racy texts to his reported mistresses.
Kilpatrick, who was the mayor of Detroit and a rising political star, lied under oath about having an affair with his chief of staff, Christine Beatty. Both were married at the time, and both were later convicted of felony charges, including perjury and misconduct, some of which stemmed from attempts to cover up thousands of text messages they had sent to each other.
They both ended up serving prison time.
Ensign acknowledged having an extramarital affair with a staff member. The relationship was discovered when the staffer's husband saw an incriminating text message.
But public figures aren't the only ones who stand to lose. In a growing phenomenon, more and more everyday Americans are discovering their partners' transgressions through text messages and e-mails.
"Texting is the new lipstick on the collar," said Parry Aftab, a privacy and Internet safety lawyer told "Good Morning America." "People don't think when they're having an affair, they don't think when they're leaving a trail of cyber bread crumbs behind them that their spouse may see. They'll log on, they'll take pictures, they'll text, thinking somehow, because it's on their cell phone, nobody will see it."
That kind of thinking gets people in trouble, and not just in their relationships. Technology that's designed to help people communicate in new ways -- e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and so many other social networking media -- is also getting people fired and ruining reputations.