The morning after Edward Snowden revealed he had leaked the information about the National Security Agency's surveillance program Prism, Twitter had a burning question: Is he hot? (Consensus: kind of.) Now the Internet had moved on to a bigger story: What's up with his girlfriend?
The intense scrutiny of Snowden and his girlfriend's personal lives may seem fitting for a story so entangled in larger debates on privacy and freedom of information. And yet hasn't the Internet learned time and time again, it's worth waiting for actual, confirmed proof?
First, Inside Edition, a TV show known for its commitment to tabloid crime stories and celebrity gossip, identified the girlfriend as Lindsay Mills, former ballet dancer and graduate of Maryland College of Art. Then came the deluge of stories with the "mights," "maybes" and "alleges."
Apparently Mills wrote in her blog on Monday, "At the moment all I can feel is alone." The blog is deleted now, but Google has a cached version, of course. She appears to be considering whether to delete her Twitter account, if that's really her Twitter account. Buzzfeed even tracked down Mills's Facebook profile and posted pictures of her in bright pink tutus, pole dancing and in lingerie.
To quote Bloomberg View columnist Stephen L. Carter, who weighed in on the news media's discussion of the "alleged" Boston bomber: "Calm down."
Yes, it appears that the Internet sleuthing is paying off, and the picture of the man who has become hero to some, villain to others is perhaps a bit more complete now that we think we know the girlfriend he left in Hawaii to escape to Hong Kong was a pole-dancing acrobat.
But it would have been fine by me if that information had stayed classified -- at least until Mills made the personal choice to come out with it.
(Kirsten Salyer is social media editor for Bloomberg View. Follow her on Twitter.)