The Dumbest Arguments Surrounding the PSN Downtime Controversy

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Published by Jim Sterling 7 years ago , last updated 1 month ago

What is it about the PlayStation 3 in particular that attracts some of the stupidest “debate” this side of the Internet? I sometimes wonder if the PS3 is a close third to religion and politics in terms of subjects guaranteed to start a staggeringly stupid fight. While the Xbox 360 and the Wii have their fair share of loyalists, there’s something particularly zealous about those who intimately adore their PS3s, and it seems to inspire a brand of lunacy that is without compare.

The recent PlayStation Network outage, and subsequent news that Sony may have accidentally given hackers all our personal information, is no exception. As with any PS3 controversy, a wave of idiotic statements were made, not to mention the kind of convoluted excuses and outright denial that are best reserved for the Catholic Church. Several of these arguments became quite common and propagated around communities all over the Internet, despite the fact that they were quite, quite stupid. Let’s look at some of the stupidest, which also happened to be the most common.

Everything can be hacked, Internet security is bad everywhere, this could happen to anyone:

I’ve had a few people try and tell me that this could happen to any online service, therefore what happened wasn’t out of the ordinary, therefore it’s not a big deal. I wonder, then, why this has become the biggest videogame story of the year if it’s so common a scenario as to become banal. Why did it hit the front page of CNN.com? Why was a senator moved to criticize Sony in a letter to Jack Tretton? Why has this not happened on Xbox Live and Steam, if it’s such an everyday occurrence?

Surely, if ‘net security is so awful that our personal details are stolen en masse by every online service in the world, we’d have heard about it before now. Somehow, I don’t think Sony has become a universal scapegoat, taking the fall for a problem that has happened everywhere. And while it’s absolutely true that individual Xbox Live accounts have been phished and hacked, it has been nowhere near the scale of what happened with the PlayStation Network. The idea that Xbox Live phishing makes the PSN situation somehow “okay” is laughable. Even if the exact same thing happened to Xbox Live, where every XBL user was exposed and the service had to go down, that wouldn’t excuse Sony — we’d just have two companies that look like dipshits right now, instead of just one.

Your credit card is at risk wherever you go

Yep, it’s true. Your credit card is at risk wherever you go. Not a big deal, right? Also, you could get knocked over by a car every time you cross the street, so it’s not so bad if a guy gets drunk and knocks you down. You could get robbed at knifepoint the moment you leave your house, so it’s not like we should expect better police protection and security measures, yeah? And any planet is at risk of getting smashed to pieces by space debris or wayward lasers, so is what the Empire did to Alderaan really so bad? Really?

The fact that your personal details are at risk does not excuse Sony from making that risk so much greater, and just because there’s a chance of something happening, that doesn’t mean we should expect companies to make halfhearted attempts to stop it. With Sony announcing new security measures this weekend, it’s clear that the company itself knows that previous measures just weren’t good enough. It’s absurd to gloss over Sony’s part in this screw-up because it could “happen anywhere.” The fact is, 77 million people do not suddenly find themselves at an increased risk of identity theft every single day of the week. Yes, everyone’s at risk every time they use they’re credit card, but the risk is minimized by companies who have their shit together, doing their best to protect your data. That’s why Sony is currently one of the most embarrassed companies in the world and, Valve is not.

Why is nobody blaming the hackers?

A considerable number of Sony Defense Force representatives somehow thought that by deflecting all blame to the hackers, Sony would be exonerated. The problem here is that the hacker’s guilt is already implied when you say that the PlayStation Network got fucking hacked. Nobody needs to blame the hackers, because we all know what the hackers did, and the vast majority of us are not condoning their activities. In a situation where one is explicitly talking about Sony‘s part in the situation, one doesn’t need to keep qualifying arguments by reminding people that the hackers are also bad.

“Sony should have done more to protect our details, and should have focused more on server-side security than fighting a losing battle against piracy. Also, the hackers were bad.”

You just don’t need to add that last statement.

Very few people are saying the hackers are blameless. It’s just that their blame is so damn obvious that it doesn’t need to be said, expect by apologists who want to see Sony free of all responsibility. It would be like people discussing the lack of parental care exhibited by Madeline McCaan’s parents when they left her unattended, with some moron constantly trying to deflect it by crying, “Why is nobody blaming the guy who abducted her?” You don’t invalidate legitimate arguments by passing a buck that didn’t need passing.

PSN’s defenses were shit and Sony is bad, it deserved to get hacked

An argument against Sony this time, but no less dumb for it. Some have seen fit to actually excuse the hackers by suggesting that the PlayStation Network was too weak and that Sony shouldn’t have sued George Hotz or acted like a dick about piracy. Sorry, but that doesn’t magically make it “cool” to hack into a network and steal the data of 77 million people. I shouldn’t even have to say that, just like nobody should have to say that a woman wearing a short skirt does not justify a sex attack.

I think Sony’s focus on the wrong thing — endless Firmware updates and a fruitlessly perpetual struggle against piracy — did help this situation happen. I also have little doubt that Sony’s suits against Hotz and Graf_Chokolo brought PlayStation Network to the attention of an increased amount of hackers, and that those hackers didn’t have to struggle much to make off with as much potential data as they did. None of that, however, makes the hacking itself okay.

You wouldn’t blame your dad if his house got robbed

Another strangely regular argument takes the form of a hypothetical situation in which a friend or family member is robbed. The logic states that if you wouldn’t blame somebody whose house was robbed, you cannot blame Sony for exposing 77 million PSN accounts to increased risk of fraud. Just thinking about the logical twister that needs to be played in order to arrive at this conclusion is enough to make one’s nose bleed.

No, you wouldn’t blame your Dad if his house was robbed. But if he let someone borrow his keys to get something from the house, and that guy was an idiot who forgot to close the door on the way out, and a burglar just walked right in and took what he wanted, we’d blame more than one person. Sony is not the Dad in this situation, it’s that guy. The forgetful, key-jangling imbecile who forgot to lock the door when he was done. Yes, as has already been discussed, we’d also blame the robber as his part in this scenario isn’t in question. However, the fellow who made it so easy for the robber shares a decent fraction of the blame as well.

You’re seriously an idiot if you think this hypothetical situation is an accurate model for arguing in Sony’s favor.

Red Ring of Death LOL!

The Red Ring of Death is one of the stupidest fucking things to have ever happened in the history of videogames, and Microsoft should forever feel embarrassed for putting out such awful, awful hardware. The problem is, however, that the RRoD being a terrible situation does not somehow let Sony off the hook for shutting down the PlayStation Network, costing developers millions of dollars, and fucking over all its customers. As grievous as the Red Ring is, it hasn’t made people cancel their credit cards and worry about who has their personal information.

Strawmen like this have popped up all week. Remember when Xbox Live went down in 2007? Remember how you have to pay for XBL Gold? These are all legitimate instances of Microsoft’s own bullshit, but that doesn’t make Sony’s bullshit less legitimate. There’s not a finite amount of criticism in the world that has been fully spent on the Xbox 360. Sony fucked up, and while the PSN didn’t explicitly deserve to be hacked, the company does deserve all the criticism, mockery and blame that has been thrown in its direction. There’s no two ways about it. When people screw up on such a huge magnitude, they expect to be called out on it.

The fact that people think Sony doesn’t deserve any blame truly boggles my mind. You’d think that the most loyal, invested fans would be the ones most angry, but I’ve seen them actually thanking Sony for being so awesome throughout all this. Like I said at the start of this article, the forgiveness and blind acceptance exhibited here rivals that of Catholics who somehow believe that institutional sexual abuse isn’t a big problem. At this rate, Sony could have its own pedophilia scandal, with Jack Tretton himself caught pounding a ten-year-old, and PS3 fanboys would claim that the kid seduced him.

Gamers, man. Fucking gamers.

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