TechCrunch publishes stolen Twitter documents

15 Jul 2009

Following a post discussing the dilemma of whether or not to publish a zip file of 310 documents sent by a hacker, called Hacker Croll, who claimed to have stolen these confidential files from inside the Twitter corporation, TechCrunch has decided to begin publishing certain files, starting with the pitch for proposed reality TV show Final Tweet.

These 310 documents are of both a personal and corporate nature, TechCrunch said, with information including private employee emails and notes on interviewees for high-level positions at Twitter.

While TechCrunch discussed the ethical implications of publishing some or all of these files, which include floor plans of Twitter HQ and security access codes, Michael Arrington, founder and co-editor of TechCrunch, said that the site will be publishing “documents showing financial projections, product plans and notes from executive strategy meetings”, while simultaneously labelling the whole event of Twittergate as a ‘dilemma’.

The first set of documents to be published was the pitch for a reality TV show (we don’t know whether or not this was a serious consideration for Twitter) called Final Tweet, which would follow four teams of young entrepreneurs as they travelled across the US aiming to set up a successful non-profit organisation with the help of Twitterers nationwide.

Plans to publish the stolen confidential corporate documents were met with some disapproval from Twitter users, some of whom labelled this action ‘going too far’, a ‘bad move’, and ‘wrong and unethical’.

In light of the recent scandal in the UK involving phone tapping by the press, this action by TechCrunch continues to raise questions on what role the media plays in the violation of privacy laws. Is this publishing in and of itself a criminal act? Where are the police with a court injunction to stop one firm publishing the stolen, private documents of another?

By Marie Boran