Ever since I wrote on Thursday about the Ashley Madison hack and resulting reactions and consequences, I’ve heard from dozens of people who used the site. They offer a remarkably wide range of reasons for having done so. I’m posting below one email I received that I find particularly illuminating, which I very lightly edited to correct a few obvious typographical errors.
It gets even worse than this email. There are gay men and women in countries where being gay is punishable by death, who were using this site to meet other gay men and women, in secret. This hack will out them, possibly leading to their death.
This hack and spreading of private information is just as bad as any other, similar hacks. Despicable as it is, cheating is not a crime, and even if it were, do we really want to live in a world with mob justice? And yes, the parent company in this particular case isn’t exactly of clear conscience, but that’s no reason to throw its users under the bus – or have them murdered by barbaric, mediaeval governments.
I know a lot of people like the world to be black and white, because it’s simple, easy to understand, and doesn’t strain the brain. Sadly for them, that’s not how the world works.
I agree that mob rule is no justice.
But I would like to remind Thom that when Brendan Eich was hounded out of his job as Mozilla CEO, you didn’t seem too cut up about mob rule then. In fact, you seemed rather satisfied with the outcome, and called it “the only sensible outcome”.