With the Olympics in full swing, beyond watching and reporting on the sport, some people in the media just can't get enough. Nico Hines of the Daily Beast wrote a piece that has since been removed, where they outed several LGBT athletes who were gay, found on LGBT network Grindr, while representing countries where homosexuality is still shunned.
The headline, as you can see, has been changed, but here's what it used to say:
— Huw Lemmey (@huwlemmey) August 11, 2016
The initial exposure was pretty bad, identifying the athletes who are still likely closeted enough to not want the whole world to know about some pretty personal matters, you'd agree.
— Mary Beth Williams (@embeedub) August 11, 2016
But while this was a misstep made from a married heterosexual writer (right? Why was he on Grindr if not to hurt somebody?), it has a strong takeaway when it comes to just about, well, everything.
Everything you do online, private or not, can come back to haunt you.
There are inherent risks in social dating, just like there are risks doing anything where your footprint is digital. And this time, it can spread more widely than ever before.
We wonder, though, why Daily Beast reporter Hines was even trolling the gay social network where he discovered the gay athletes. Maybe becasue he wanted a clickbaity headline. Maybe he liked the idea of an expose -- it is original reporting, it will bring the Daily Beast a shit ton of traffic, and it will give Hines a pretty big pat on the back for this report that perhaps not many people would have thought of writing. (I mean, come on, I work in the media. I get what they're after. Clickbait = traffic = MONEY!)
There's a fine line that shouldn't be crossed, though, or at least we think. Does news (and really, is this news?) trump safety? These are young adults still living the prime of their years who may return to their home countries and suffer serious consequences for something they cannot control. Email kills--literally, after all, and we don't want these talented youngsters to suffer the same fate living under more oppressive governance.
On the Internet, you can be anyone and do anything, but who pays the price? At the end of the day, it's you. It's you who posted your profile requesting gay sex. It's you who made the decision to share confidential secrets to an "enemy" government. It's you who makes these decisions that can get you ostracized, deported, hated, or murdered.
Ultimately, lives were placed at risk. Whether it's a spy or an athlete's lifestyle -- or even if you're just the average Jane or Joe -- the Internet does (and can) wipe out privacy. Think before you post, unless you consider your deeds an open book and have nothing to hide.