So where does 'being a hacker' enter the picture?... The court used the 'we are hackers' statement as evidence that the defendant probably had the means and knowledge to destroy the evidence. Thus, the restraining order was granted.
I think the issue is that 'being a hacker' enters the picture most significantly here:
The tipping point for the Court comes from evidence that the defendants – in their own words – are hackers. By labeling themselves this way, they have essentially announced that they have the necessary computer skills and intent to simultaneously release the code publicly and conceal their role in that act.
That is, in the Court's view, that 'being a hacker' was both necessary ('tipping') and sufficient ('essentially announced..,', etc.) evidence that they had 'intent'. That's the scary bit - the misuse of a long-established technical term to pre-emptively trap someone, before they have any chance of input. This could very easily have been avoided by a basic level of technical background.
The other scary bit, as covered extensively already in the comments, is that this:
Battelle must show that the defendants have “a history of disposing of evidence or violating court orders or that persons similar to the adverse party have such a history.”
was essentially fulfilled by self-describing as a 'hacker' plus this:
Battelle asserts generally that defendants who have the technical ability to wipe out a hard drive will do precisely that when faced with allegations of wrongdoing.
This is the undelying point of all the analogies about capacity and intent above, whether they stack up for other reasons or not. So, I'd say there is a valid point that something went wrong. In terms of consequences, this is a public shaming for somebody trying to build a new business - whether intended as such or not and whether they are culpable or not, I can't imagine much from a business confidence survey on Southfork Security about now. The dubious logic allowed this to happen without any opportunity to protest in court. But, surely all publicity is good publicity... I guess I'd never heard of them til today.
There's a reason that the bar has to be so high: "a history of disposing of evidence or violating court orders or that persons similar to the adverse party have such a history.” Good thing they didn't notice the word 'fork' in the company name or they'd probably have the domain name too...
I don't know much about how such things work in the US, but is there any way that someone could be compensated if it was later shown that such action was negligent and (quantifiably) materially damaging?