How Think Secret ruined Apple’s surprise party

A few days ago, I shared my thoughts about Apple, Think Secret and Non-Disclosure Agreements, in which I basically said that rumor sites were cool, but rumor sites that were using known confidential information or news that was obviously shared with them in violation of non-disclosure agreements were most assuredly not cool at all.

Yesterday I finally came up with a metaphor that I believe aptly describes the situation, and explains why it’s just so uncool and unethical to publish rumors that are known to come from sources violating this confidentiality…

As I was walking to the store yesterday, I started to think about surprise parties, and how the more of a surprise it is, the more fun everyone has with the entire concept. Movies, TV and books all give a nod to surreptitious party planning and sneaky tricks to lure the unsuspecting party “victim” to their fete.

What’s significant is that at any point during the planning of a surprise party someone could spill the beans and share the secret with the subject of the party. I think that this is darn similar to the rumor-mongering that was happening prior to Apple‘s Macworld Conference announcements this week.

Let’s say that it’s my surprise party that’s being planned. I might guess that there’s a party, I might even ask my friends if they can fill me in, and I could even whinge a bit about disliking surprises and that I need to know. So far, that’s cool and pretty much an expected part of the process. This is also how these rumor sites should work, in my opinion, with discussion and “best guesses” based on analysis of the market and some time with a Quiji board or equivalent.

When someone comes up to me and says “Hey Dave, wanna know all about the surprise party people are planning for you?” that’s where the behavior is over the line. First off, now I know that there’s a party whereas before it was just rumors and guesses, but secondly this person has also violated the trust and confidence of all my other friends and ruined the surprise completely.

That’s what bothers me about groups like Think Secret accepting and publishing material that they know violates trade secrets and non-disclosure agreements: they’re not playing “let’s guess what kind of party we’re going to have”, they’re actively saying “yep, there’s a party, here’s where it is, and here’s the guest list.”

It’s wrong. It’s unprofessional, unethical and, most of all, it sure makes me want to skip inviting that person to my next party too. Sorry Nick Ciarelli, aka Think Secret owner Nick DiPlume.

7 comments on “How Think Secret ruined Apple’s surprise party

  1. How Think Secret ruined Apple’s surprise party

    A few days ago, I shared my thoughts about Apple, Think Secret and Non-Disclosure Agreements, in which I basically said that rumor sites were cool, but rumor sites that were using known confidential information or news that was obviously shared with t…

  2. I totally disagree. Think Secret should be covered by the first amendment. It’s Apple’s employees that are at fault here and apple should concentrate on it’s own internal problems instead of blaming them on someone exercising their rights under our constitution. I don’t agree with the party analogy. Spoiling someones surprise won’t cost anyone any money. Two weeks cost me $50 on iLife 05. Do you think apple is going to say, “Oh you bought your G5 2 weeks before the “up-to-date program” offer of $19.95, but that’s ok we’ll give you the $50 discount anyway…not a chance. They have adopted too many of MicroShaft’s policies.

  3. You’re obviously welcome to your perspective, but I don’t think that the First Amendment blanket covers all possible communication. If I violate government secrecy and share something with you, then you post it to your site, we’re both going to get in trouble. Further, what makes you think that Apple isn’t pursuing the case in-house too?
    Sorry you lost out on the iLife transaction, but that’s a risk that we all take every time we decide to buy something rather than waiting. I’ve certainly bought my share of Mac and PC hardware just to find out it’s become cheaper — or faster! — just a week or two later.

  4. I’m sure apple is pursuing it in house… but we’ve heard little to nothing about this, other than it was leaked from in-house. Who were the “leakers” anyway – and are they getting sued as well? Who knows……….. As is common with most media, public opinion is influenced more by perspective, than by truth. The problem began internally at apple but they are screaming poor us. Sorry, don’t buy it. The problem started there and should end there�the responsibility belongs to apple and it’s employees. Plain and simple, if they hadn’t leaked it he wouldn’t have been able to post it. Speaking of the government… are we sure this isn’t all some big marketing scheme cooked up by the two parties involved to solicit copious amounts of publicity for this sexy new product??? Maybe we can call it AppleSauce instead of AppleGate.
    As of yet I fail to see how this hurt apple in any way. I was totally anxious to see if this rumor was true. Iwas delighted to find out that it was, a G4 for $500 bucks–I’ve tried really hard not to buy one just for the sake of having it.
    On another note: The people who posted the seed of Tiger on BitTorrent, however, do deserve to be sued. They read the agreement before they got their software, It’s quite explicit and easy to understand, once you get by the ALL CAPS thing. More power to Apple on that one: just to reinforce my opinion on culpability.
    Your blog is fantastic and I appreciate that you’ve done your homework on your articles. I do believe that as bloggers we should be responsible, honest and accountable for all the words we post. As long as its the TRUTH it can’t be all wrong.

  5. Nick DiPlume/Ciarelli is an idiot. He ruined the Apple party and that’s all there is to it. And you can’t go throwing the “first amendment” rights around – contracts were broken and Apple has every right to sue, even an obligation to sue. If they do nothing then who will ever take binding, legal contracts seriously?
    Nick you blew it. For a fan of Apple you really blew it.

  6. As a consumer and a customer wanting to make timely purchases most affordably, I appreciate knowing about new products whose introductions may affect my choices.
    But most people who visit ThinkSecret are faboys who want to know the latestgreatest out of 1 Infinite Loop, and talk and speculate endlessly over it, and Nick. C. merely accomodates them while making a profit. I don’t see much reason to support him or the breaking of California state law prohibiting the inducement of others to break confidentiality agreements.

  7. MacDan, I assume the “contracts” that you’re talking about are the ones that APPLE’s employees signed. ThinkSecret didn’t do anything that any White House, CNN or local reporter hasn’t or doesn’t do. Granted, he may still be an idiot but you can’t say that Apple has a obligation to sue (I assume you directed your comment at DePlume/Ciarelli and not the employees) without saying that “every other entity involved in the same trade should be sued for the same reason” as well. Something to keep in mind is that “it is our current media that has set the precedence, not Cairelli” in these matters.
    Being an avid fan of apple as well I must wholeheartedly agree with Blobby.

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