Twitter and TechCrunch Controversy

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In the field of online journalism, ethics are often called into question. Where should the line be drawn between “fair game” in the name of public interest, and that’s just downright wrong?

With computer users becoming increasingly tech-savvy, well-known companies are becoming more vulnerable. There is an ever-present risk of being targeted by a malicious attempt to gain data, or even by a simple probe caused by boredom and curiosity. Either way, private data is often spread over the internet at an alarming speed.

For up-and-coming tech companies like Twitter, the risk of being targeted by crackers or hackers is probably even greater, and the effects can be devastating if personal information is compromised.

Recently, the popular technology site TechCrunch gained access to over 300 documents and screenshots from behind the scenes at Twitter. The documents ranged from alarm settings and floorplans of the Twitter office to a pitch for a TV show featuring Twitter.

TechCrunch pointed out that they love breaking new stories, not rehashing old ones. The opportunity of a huge zip file landing in their inbox, full of documents that the technology community would love to pick apart, was irresistible.

The debate is raging over whether TechCrunch was right to begin doing so, however. Should they be liable for publishing these documents? Twitter didn’t seem too keen on their information being shared with the internet at large, and in one tweet addressed to the TechCrunch Twitter profile, they even questioned who gave TechCrunch the “green light” to publish the documents.

Some people think that TechCrunch crossed an ethical or legal line, while others (like TechCrunch’s founder, believe that “News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.”

Was TechCrunch wrong? In the coming weeks, we’ll see if that’s decided by the public or in court.
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