Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanack wrote, “Three may keep a Secret, if two of them are dead.” This quote rings true time and time again. The most recent example is the legal mess surrounding the now shuttered website Backpage:
Carl Ferrer, the co-founder of Backpage, the notorious and now-shuttered site that once hosted a vast quantity of prostitution-related ads, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering charges.
Ferrer agreed, in combined plea deals with both Texas and California authorities, where he faced outstanding charges, that he will shut down Backpage “throughout the world,” will aid authorities in ongoing prosecutions of his co-conspirators, and will make all Backpage data available to authorities.
This outcome is very common in cases involving multiple suspects. The first suspect to offer their services as a snitch against the others is usually handed a sweetheart deal.
Benjamin Franklin’s point should be taken to heart by anybody performing illegal activities. For example, if you’re an agorist who is selling cannabis, you probably don’t want to enter a partnership with another cannabis dealer. You can’t control the actions of another person. Even if you take every precaution to avoid being caught by the authorities, you can’t guarantee that a partner will do the same. And if their mistake causes them to be arrested, there’s a good chance that they’ll offer you up in exchange for a sweetheart deal.