The backstory – some hacker broke into some Twitter employee’s email, grabbed a bunch of docs, and sent them to some bloggers. This guy is clearly a grade-A jerk, no debate there.
Lots of juicy tidbits in the emails, ranging from personal stuff to revenue forecasts. Now since these were stolen it’s pretty obvious the guys at Twitter didn’t want them out in the open. This of course didn’t matter to a variety of “news-breaking” bloggers, who just “couldn’t resist” putting them up while throwing up a series of rationales like “if we didn’t, someone else would’ve.”
Actually, no, they wouldn’t necessarily have unless y’all didn’t pave the way. You just got caught playing a classic little prisoner’s dilemma game, and you all failed, head directly to jail, do not pass go. Here’s the visualization for you…
The Prisoner’s Dilemma of Being Ethical in the News-Breaking Blogging Industry
|Blogger B respects privacy||Blogger B endorses theft|
|Blogger A respects privacy||Bloggers contribute to culture with high standards||Blogger A gets scoop, traffic spike, short term revenue through ads, no long term benefits
Blogger B holds head high, but probably rues the day
|Blogger A endorses theft||Blogger B gets scoop, traffic spike, short term revenue through ads, no long term benefits
Blogger A holds head high, but probably rues the day
|Bloggers contribute to culture that rewards “bad” behaviors|
But this is par for the course if your job is breaking news as fast as possible, as there is no reward for being late nor is there a penalty for being inaccurate.
In my opinion the race to be first is full of nothing but losers, as it is utterly unsustainable as there is no loyalty being built by readers who will simply follow a trail to the news, rapidly forgetting who was first yesterday or the day before. While the publishing industry has never exactly rewarded accuracy, modern technology and communications tools are clearly worsening the problem for us poor souls who simply want to be informed.
Incidentally, regarding the ethics of publishing stolen documents, I think it pretty well speaks for itself. It’s not about how “easy” a hack was to steal something (despite the funny as shown here). If anyone feels the need to “justify” the actions, well then they are doing just that, aren’t they? Funny how rarely you need to justify actions that are obviously ethical…