Thunderf00t’s unauthorized access and leaking of the private FTB mailing list

Recently, the Freethought Blogs staff received evidence indicating that some conversations from the private mailing list for FTB bloggers had apparently been leaked to outside parties by Thunderf00t. These conversations had taken place on the list over a month after Thunderf00t had been removed from Freethought Blogs and the private mailing list. Upon examination of the mailing list logs, it was found that Thunderf00t had seemingly been able to regain access to the list immediately after he was removed. Once this was known, he was removed again and prevented from joining. After this, he allegedly repeatedly attempted to re-join the list without success.

By the time we became aware of the breach, Thunderf00t had apparently been able to access all of the dozens of conversations that had taken place on the private list over the past month, during which time his access was believed to be revoked. This material contained the private real-life identities and personal information of a number of FTB contributors, as well as various behind-the-scenes matters that could have serious adverse effects if they became public knowledge.

The mailing list has always been intended to be private. Every message posted to the list contain this notification: “All emails sent to this list are confidential and private. Revealing information contained in any email sent to the list to anyone not on the list without permission of the author is strictly prohibited.” FTB’s bloggers use the list under the assumption that its contents will not be made public or read by unwelcome parties. If you’ve ever had a conversation in the privacy of your own home which you did not want to become public knowledge, Thunderf00t’s actions are the equivalent of eavesdropping and telling others what you’ve said. And if you can understand the risks inherent to such snooping, you can understand the risks to us – as well as the sense of violation. We’ve now been deprived of control over discussions that were not meant to go beyond a limited group of chosen, trusted individuals.

People have the right to maintain their own private discussion areas, and control who is allowed access to them. This holds true regardless of our personal stance on any other subjects, such as sexual harassment, women in the skeptical movement, the handling of Thunderf00t’s brief stay at FTB, or FTB’s various contributors. The need to hold private conversations is entirely legitimate, and respecting that privacy is a ground rule. Thunderf00t appears to have violated this egregiously, and his actions simply aren’t justifiable. If disagreement on certain topics warrants breaching the privacy of those you disagree with and publicizing their confidential information, the possibility of any kind of good-faith discussion simply vanishes.

Thunderf00t’s alleged actions in this situation are inexcusable under any reasonable standard of ethical behavior, no matter what his motivations are. The limits to the damage he’s now possibly able to do to members of this community, should he attempt to do so, are unknown. Rarely have I seen such outrageous conduct by anyone on YouTube or in the atheist and skeptic community, and he was one of the last people I would have expected to do this. To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement. It’s infuriating that anyone would dare to be so disrespectful and reckless.