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Gizmodo blows whistle on iPhone loser

Mobile & TelcoFeatures
, 20 Apr 2010Features

Not content with scooping probably the biggest tech story of the year [er, week, maybe - Ed.] Gizmodo has probably ruined the career of a young engineer.

The tech blog last night exposed the name of the hapless Apple employee who had one German beer too many and left a prototype iPhone G4 in a California bar some 20 miles from Apple's Infinite Loop campus.

No doubt keen to expand on the millions of hits, and bucketloads of advertising dollars, the original story generated, Gizmodo's Jesus Diaz decided to ruin any chance the Carolina State University graduate had of finding another job after he has gone through the no-doubt excruciating process of explaining to his bosses at Cupertino how he manged to be at the centre of what is without a doubt the biggest accidental leak in the Apple history.

Gizmodo's original yarn concluded: "He sounded tired and broken. But at least, he's alive. Unlike Apple's legendary impenetrable security, breached by the power of German beer and one single human mistake."

That was at 3am today.

Gizmodo readers rightly called the author out on the ethics of exposing the engineer's name to the world. After all, Apple would be in no doubt who the responsible party was. They don't hand these things out to everyone, after all.

Here are just a few of the indignant comments which have, of course, since been deleted:

"Jesus, serious question: Why call the guy out? Sure Apple would know by now, and handle it internally with young [name redacted]... but to go public with the source of the tech goof of the century...I'm having trouble finding the meaning in that."

"You guys are pieces of shit for doing this to this guy. Jesus you're an asshole."

"Oh, let's add public humiliation to his current career woes. Sure, the kid's probably going to lose his job at Apple, but let's make extra sure that he can't get a job anywhere else. It's one thing to scoop an unreleased product. Hell, that's your job. It's the purpose of this blog. You did this for shits and giggles. And it's wrong."

"If the leak is real, isn't this f***ed up to put the man's name out there on Gizmodo? I mean he did break one of Apple's Commandments and is probably already f***ed."

No doubt responding to the hail of negative comments, the text has been amended to read: "He sounded tired and broken. But at least he's alive, and apparently may still be working at Apple—as he should be.

"After all, it's just a ****ing iPhone and mistakes can happen to everyone—[name redacted], Phil Schiller, you, me, and Steve Jobs.The only real mistake would be to fire [name redacted] in the name of Apple's legendary impenetrable security, breached by the power of German beer and one single human error."

Adding a single apologetic paragraph to a mean-spirited hatchet job doesn't make the damage Gizmodo has obviously done in the name of a sensational story any less.

We genuinely hope Apple sees this for what it is... a terrible mistake made by a young man who, like millions of people every year including all of us here at THINQ, had one sniff too many of the barmaid's apron and left his phone somewhere stupid.

We also can't help but wonder whether the guy who found the phone in the first place, or the organisation which subsequently paid $5,000 to acquire it according to most reports, will be prosecuted.

We're not up on Californian law but, in the UK, if you find someone else's property and don't immediately hand it in to the police it is classed as stealing by finding, which carries pretty much the same penalties as outright theft.

And pulling that property apart to see what was inside would almost certainly be defined as criminal damage.

Finally, it's all very well in retrospect to criticise another tech news site for publishing an ill advised follow-up to a story which we would have loved to have broken.

Anyone working for a news site will tell you, if they are being honest, that it's all about the hits. But would this story have generated any less traffic if it hadn't named and shamed the individual in question? We seriously doubt it.

Would we have given same story the same treatment given half the chance?

We rather think not.

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