Capping off what was already a strange day for WikiLeaks’ social media presence, an official WikiLeaks account floated an odd, unsettling, seemingly nonsensical idea for an “online database” of verified Twitter users.
“WikiLeaks Task Force,” an official account from the organization that says its mission is to “correct misinformation about #WikiLeaks,” sent out the idea this afternoon. “We are thinking of making an online database with all ‘verified’ twitter accounts & their family/job/financial/housing relationships,” the account tweeted.
We are looking for clear discrete (father/shareholding/party membership) variables that can be put into our AI software. Other suggestions?— WikiLeaks Task Force (@WLTaskForce) January 6, 2017
The tweet was immediately met with a mix of concern and skepticism. Such a database would be an easy way to coordinate harassment of certain individuals, users pointed out, especially if such a “database” were public.
Others mocked the idea as unfeasible, and, indeed, there was little evidence the account had given much thought about what graphing “family/job/financial/housing relationships” would logistically require.
i am thinking of making a database of all the muppets and their connections to the harry potter universe and middle earth. stay tuned. pic.twitter.com/o6jO9KGmDw— Sarah McLaughlin (@sarahemclaugh) January 6, 2017
The account later tweeted the idea would be “to develop a metric to understand influence networks based on proximity graphs,” although didn’t immediately clarify the plan beyond that.
.@kevincollier No it is to develop a metric to understand influence networks based on proximity graphs.— WikiLeaks Task Force (@WLTaskForce) January 6, 2017
“Posting another person’s private and confidential information is a violation of the Twitter Rules,” a Twitter spokesperson told The Verge in a statement.
Earlier in the day, the main WikiLeaks Twitter account was also mocked for a tweet saying “[t]he Obama admin/CIA is illegally funneling TOP SECRET//COMINT information to NBC for political reasons before PEOTUS even gets to read it,” referring to an NBC report released this week, which cited US intelligence officials’ assessments on Russian hacking attempts.
The irony of “WikiLeaks” taking a stand against leaks was not lost on some users.
In which Wikileaks complains that the Obama Administration is leaking: https://t.co/bINThkhvIP— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) January 6, 2017
In one more twist, soon after that tweet was sent, President-elect Trump also weighed in. “I am asking the chairs of the House and Senate committees to investigate top secret intelligence shared with NBC prior to me seeing it,” he wrote.
I am asking the chairs of the House and Senate committees to investigate top secret intelligence shared with NBC prior to me seeing it.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2017