Sony Pictures Entertainment wants news outlets to stop publishing stories based on material stolen by hackers, who recently ransacked the company's computer network to devastating effect. From one perspective, that might be the right thing to do. Though it was found on corporate servers, some of the information revealed by hackers was undeniably personal and not meant for dissemination. But the ethics of this situation are more complicated than Sony would like to admit: Completely apart from the content of the stolen material, the media's publishing of it has been a socially useful act, an instance of moral hazard for the digital masses.
Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter behind Sony hits "Moneyball" and "The Social Network," found himself at the center of the Sony scandal. A number of e-mail exchanges made public by the hackers involved him, and allegations were made about him that anyone would resent. In a column for The New York Times, however, Sorkin wrote that the media's picking up the revelations was a bigger problem than the hack itself: