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Did the Guardian Act Unethically in Whisper Expose? A Twitter Debate.

In a recent report on the app Whisper, did the Guardian cross a journalistic line?

Shutterstock / Gil C

Here’s a really interesting debate that has been playing out on Twitter over the past couple days, over a recent story in the Guardian saying the anonymous messaging app Whisper was tracking users’ locations without their permission.

The Guardian says its story resulted from a three-day visit to Whisper headquarters to discuss an “expanded journalistic relationship,” and now journalists are taking to Twitter to discuss the ethics of the Guardian’s reporting.

Whisper has a number of media partners, including the Guardian, and many of them are working to distance themselves from the company following the report, which Whisper has vehemently denied. BuzzFeed, Fusion and the Huffington Post have all confirmed to Re/code that they are temporarily halting their relationships with Whisper until more information surfaces about how the company deals with user privacy.

As media partners, these organizations work with Whisper to pull relevant content for stories. In some instances, Whisper would approach its partners with suggested story ideas based on themes or trends the company saw within its community.

The Twitter debate started when Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget said the Guardian may not have behaved ethically in its reporting of the story. Here are a few highlights from the reactions:

https://twitter.com/hblodget/status/523208538911674368

https://twitter.com/mariosundar/status/523208969221718016

https://twitter.com/mims/status/523209051543715840

https://twitter.com/hblodget/status/523210460955672577

https://twitter.com/emilybell/status/523308025717993473

https://twitter.com/hblodget/status/523211273828589570

https://twitter.com/hblodget/status/523211526656634880

https://twitter.com/joeja/status/523212566135201792

New York Times writer Matt Apuzzo jumped in to set one thing straight:

https://twitter.com/mattapuzzo/status/523214086637879296

https://twitter.com/MattZeitlin/status/523210815542153216

Khosla Ventures’ Keith Rabois sparked a spinoff discussion about the honesty of undercover reporting in general:

https://twitter.com/rabois/status/523320094743461888

https://twitter.com/dbentley/status/523320930282778625

https://twitter.com/rabois/status/523321094325821441

https://twitter.com/DouglasCrets/status/523355403003101184

(That’s a reference to this landmark court case).

https://twitter.com/PlanetHozz/status/523519067664441344

https://twitter.com/rabois/status/523519231384489984

https://twitter.com/PlanetHozz/status/523520464837435392

https://twitter.com/rabois/status/523520556302225409

https://twitter.com/rabois/status/523537741225529344

https://twitter.com/PlanetHozz/status/523538319100375040

https://twitter.com/rabois/status/523538481478262785

https://twitter.com/jeffjarvis/status/523559422518636544

https://twitter.com/rabois/status/523559635144691712

Guardian editor Janine Gibson seems to have ended the online debate (at least for now) by clarifying that the Guardian’s reporters didn’t agree to any nondisclosure agreement while visiting:

https://twitter.com/janinegibson/status/523560388471058432

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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