Should TechCrunch Publish Twitter Secrets

Yesterday, a hacker named Hacker Croll sent 310 confidential documents that he or she stole from Twitter to various web sites.

Since it happened, TechCrunch founder and editor Mike Arrington has written two posts discussing the documents that he will publish – financial projections, product plans and notes from executive strategy meetings – and what he won’t publish – information that’s embarrassing but not really newsworthy. The blog Mashable said it will not publish any of the documents.

It raises an interesting ethical dilemma, should these documents be published?

Now, for sure, this is not always a dilemma. News organizations often post documents often post documents and information that have been leaked by employees, interested parties or people in government. And Arrington is arguing that what he’s doing is no different.

But a number of commenters on TechCrunch are saying that it is different for mostly two reasons – all three of those entities (employees, interested parties, government) presumably had legitimate access to that info in the first place and then decided to leak it, and that information about a small company, albeit an ultra-popular one, isn’t newsworthy enough to warrant this disclosure, unlike something like the Pentagon Papers.

It’s hard to argue that Twitter isn’t newsworthy, even though it’s a tiny company. It’s growing exponentially and has changed social networking and the web. Plus, it’s impossible to know whether the disclosure was newsworthy or not until it’s published. But publishing these documents also gives the hacker the validation that he or she set out for when the documents were sent to TechCrunch and will probably spur other hackers to do the same for other companies.

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