Apr 23, 2010

Morals & Ethics, where have you gone?

Imagine this.
You're walking along the street and you notice a brand new Ferrari concept car sitting by the kerb with the keys in the ignition, the engine running and nobody around.  You wait a while and then figure that it doesn't look like anyone is coming by to claim it so you jump in and drive it home.
You hang on to it for a few days and then call Ferrari to tell them that you've found one of their cars.  But they don't believe you or don't return your calls.
So you take some photos of this car and send them to a few media outlets to show them what you've found.
You eventually decide that you're going to make some money off this and start shopping this car around to a few of the more interested car blogs and media outlets to see who wants to buy into this guaranteed scoop.  You eventually sell it for a very tidy sum to a prominent auto blog.
Now as Farrari has remotely demobilised the car, the auto blog then goes about pulling the car apart and examining it from the inside out.  All the while fully knowing that they have bought something that didn't belong to the person selling it in the first place.  
Inside the car they find the drivers licence and photos of the test driver who had apparently been driving it before it was 'lost'.  They publish his pictures and personal details online and make light of the fact that he was the one that 'lost' it in the first place.
They make as much money as they can from this story before Ferrari contacts them and asks for it back.
Sound familiar?  No?  Well this is basically the same thing that happened with the recent loss of an iPhone prototype by an Apple engineer in the US.

My question is around the morals of the person that found the phone in the first place.  Who finds something then takes it home and keeps it?  Why not hand it in to the police or management of the restaurant where they found it, like any normal person would do?

And what type of 'respectable' media outlet buys something from someone that is obviously not theirs to sell and makes no attempt to return it to the owner?  What type of ethics allow the people at Gizmodo to operate like this?  In my mind it has turned what once used to be a reputable gadget blog into nothing more than a cheap tabloid.

Finally, why the hell would you go about systematically ruining the reputation of the engineer that seems to have been the one that lost it?  Publishing his name, his photo and even his flickr photostream.  And all the while with not one single sign of remorse or wrongdoing in any way.

The redeeming factor here is that he backlash against Gizmodo has been severe.  The community has overwhelmingly condemned their actions in ruining the engineers' reputation.

Shame on you Gizmodo.