When TechCrunch broke news earlier today that Facebook had acquired FriendFeed, the first thing crossed my mind (and exited my mouth) was: “It’s on TechCrunch, so I’m giving it a few minutes.” In other words, let’s see who else reports it before we start talking like this is actually happening. (Note: Their initial report was much thinner than what’s currently posted at the link.)
This skepticism stems from TechCrunch’s decision to leak hacked Twitter documents a few weeks back and publicize a few already public photos of Robert Scoble partying. At the time, I said:
… I don’t have any plans to dump TechCrunch from my list of tech news sources and I’m sure no one cares. But I am reading their material with a more skeptical eye today than I was a week ago. If it gets to the point where I feel the need to check everything they say against Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, etc. … why keep reading them?
It also spins out of TechCrunch jumping the gun on WTF’ing a Twitter trending topic that turned out to be legitimate. They lost authority, in my eyes, and the consequence is that with a breaking news item like today’s, I don’t really believe it till I read it from someone I trust. Does that—skepticism—really matter to TechCrunch? No way—I already clicked on their link. But what might matter to them is that I didn’t link to them to spread the news.
That’s not the only lesson to be learned here, though. Despite TechCrunch still being on my “wait and see” list, today’s news that they broke was true and that put a point back in their column. They also followed up the breaking item with an interview with top brass from Facebook and FriendFeed. Point being: People screw up. Maybe TechCrunch just had a stretch where they made some mistakes and bad decisions. It happens. It’ll be a while before I’m slapping a TechCrunch sticker on my laptop, but I’m still reading news there and if they continue down the path of today, I’ll read their stuff the same as any other source.