Wikileaks Announces Plan to Create a “Database” on Verified Twitter Accounts


In a tweet published Friday evening but subsequently deleted after backlash began brewing, WikiLeaks mulled building a digital database of all verified Twitter users.

“We are thinking of making an online database with all ‘verified’ twitter accounts & their family/job/financial/housing relationships,” the WikiLeaks Task Force Twitter account, which serves as WikiLeaks’ official “support” account, tweeted Friday, as reported by Forbes magazine.

Verified Twitter accounts display a blue icon indicating that the individual behind the account is authentic. Verification is frequently sought by prominent individuals such as politicians and journalists.

In a follow-up tweet, WikiLeaks attempted to provide the reasoning behind its plan, writing, “We are looking for clear discrete (father/shareholding/party membership) variables that can be put into our AI software.”

“As we stated the idea is to look at the network of *relationships* that influence — not to publish addresses,” it added.

The organization also claimed that other companies do the same thing.

However, critics were quick to note that neither Facebook nor LinkedIn had a history of intentionally leaking confidential information. Moreover, the information provided to these companies by their users was offered voluntarily, whereas WikiLeaks intended to obtain its data without permission.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the general response to this proposal was both immediate and scathing, with even the Anonymous network of activists and hackers tweeting, “This is a sickening display of intimidation tactics.”

Twitter itself reportedly also joined in the fray, publishing a statement warning that if WikiLeaks were to publish the confidential information of any of its users, that would amount to a violation of the company’s rules.

Though WikiLeaks did not clarify whether its database would be public, TechCrunch noted that considering its “core mission is making large amounts of information available to the general public, it’s hard to imagine that WikiLeaks is considering this project as an internal tool.”

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