An Open Secret

You can handle the truth.


Information wants to be free. I’m not exactly sure why this is, but in all my years as a tech reporter, I found this to be the case. No matter what you want to find out, you can find it out if you just know the right question to ask. Ideally, to the right person.

With this in mind, I’ve been fascinated over the past several weeks to see the rise of information sharing on Secret. Yes, a lot of what is shared on the network turns out to be bogus. But over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a number of stories “break” there as well.

Why?

In the old days — meaning, three years ago — journalists had anonymous sources. Much like Secret, these sources weren’t actually fully anonymous, but they were anonymous to you, the reader. The journalist obviously knew the source well, but hid their identity to protect them.

The source, meanwhile, had their own agenda. One of the greatest fallacies in tech reporting (and reporting in general, I would imagine) is that sources do things out of the kindness of their hearts, or the desire to do the right thing. Sometimes, sure. But more often than not, a source is getting something out of the equation as well.

“I’ll leak this information to you, but you have to promise to cover what I do next.”

That type of thing.

What makes Secret so fascinating with regard to this leaking of information is that it changes this equation. People are no longer leaking things for personal gain down the road. They’re seemingly just leaking things to get the truth out there.

No doubt, there’s still some agenda. Maybe they don’t get along with the person they’re leaking the information about. Maybe they overheard this information from a friend and want to generate a lot of hearts on Secret. Who knows the motivation? But it’s certainly a different motivation than it was in the “old” days of tech reporting.

And I love it. Like Lt. Daniel Kaffee in A Few Good Men, I want the truth. I assure you, I can handle it. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s delivered by a reporter or an “anonymish” app. I’m a firm believer that information is the most powerful currency out there. And the more people who get rich off of it, the better.

I wonder where this road leads. It’s one thing to break information about people leaving companies or products being shut down — it’s another when real whistleblowing starts to take place. This is but the beginning, I imagine.


Disclosure: I’m an investor in Secret through my role as a General Partner at Google Ventures. I should also disclose again that I’m a reformed tech reporter.