Monday, August 03, 2009
Tweet delete?

Big tech blog TechCrunch Europe accidentally published a half-finished article last night, deleting it quickly but not before its RSS feed had logged it and shared it with the world.

The piece is a work in progress about a chap who may or may not be leaving his job at a technology startup. It's not earthshatteringly interesting, apart from to a small subsection of industry watchers (or maybe his Twitter followers).

TechCrunch took the piece down quickly, but not before screenshots of the piece (complete with headline 'DO NOT PUBLISH' - guaranteed to get people to notice a story) had started to circulate around the web. The reaction of the TechCrunch writers was shocking - they apparently started messaging anyone who had spread the story and asked them to delete their Tweets.

Now, it's worth noting that TechCrunch recently published details of 300 confidential Twitter documents that 'landed in their inbox'. TechCrunch's Michael Arrington is famous for his feelings about PR embargoes (he ignores them).

Recently, I got a note from TechCrunch Europe's Mike Butcher for retweeting a conversation between a TechCrunch journo and the CEO of a company they'd exposed as stealing some competitor's code. In this case, I was on TechCrunch's side and Mike's always been fine with me, but he came in hard asking me if I'd "actually read (the) article" or "did I just retweet for laugh?"

This approach is becoming very normal for TechCrunch now. They know their position, and seem to be more and more comfortable with direct attacks on people that threaten it - no matter how little the issue. Ignoring embargoes and exposing corporate theft is fine, and defending the right to do that is up to them. I'm in no doubt that TechCrunch is one of the most important technology news sites out there. They have also published a decent apology.

But personally singling out people that share things already in the public domain? Are they in danger of losing the moral high ground?

Also published on The Media Blog.