When users find new purposes for popular tech services

When entrepreneurs Ade Olonoh and John Wechsler founded Formspring, they likely didn't intend to create a haven for sexting-prone politicians. And yet, thanks to Anthony Weiner, that may well be its legacy: the Q&A-based social network is now known as the place where "Carlos Danger" solicited a 22-year-old woman and potentially torpedoed his mayoral campaign.

Of course, Formspring is not the first app to be co-opted for a purpose its creators did not intend. Such an event is often a rite of passage--and a valuable one at that. Twitter's hashtag feature, for example, was dreamed up by early adopters. And when...

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