backchannel: What was once an inspiring effort at transparency enabled by new technologies now seems driven by personal grudge and reckless releases of information. by Sandra Upson
'On July 19, it released an unredacted database of emails from the Turkish party AKP, which also included the addresses and other personal details of millions of Turkish women, as reported by scholar and journalist Zeynep Tufekci. Three days later, in its leak of 19,252 emails from the Democratic National Committee, WikiLeaks once again included the social security and credit card numbers of donors, amidst other sensitive information.
'WikiLeaks’ social media strategy has also evolved. It no longer solicits help on Twitter with vetting specific leaks, instead focusing more on lambasting journalists, notes Lisa Lynch, a media professor at Drew University who has written extensively about the organization. So when it came time to publish the DNC and AKP leaks, WikiLeaks struck out on its own. “The obvious fact is that WikiLeaks doesn’t have huge resources. They’re trying to be much more targeted, and to do down Hilary (sic),” says Beckett. “The danger is — especially in the Turkish case — if they’re really not competent to judge the content, then that is seriously problematic.”
'As the world absorbed the gigantic trove of private emails released last month, Bulgarian security expert Vesselin Bontchev decided to examine the dump for malware. He figured that the average email database is likely to contain some harmful attachments, and that casual WikiLeaks visitors might now be endangered. His hunch was right, and he quickly uncovered a collection of malware in the AKP database. As Alex Howard, senior analyst at the Sunlight Foundation put it, “That’s not journalistic. That’s not whistleblowing. That’s creating a honeypot for unaware parts of the public looking for the dump.”'