Wikileaks whips up furor after proposing a database of verified Twitter users’ info

PayPal won't let you buy Wikileaks support
Wikileaks on Friday tweeted that it is thinking of building an online database populated with the information of verified Twitter users, including users’ family, job, financial, and housing details. It has since deleted the original tweet, which you can see a screenshot of below.

wikileaks twitter database tweet 2

Unsurprisingly, the tweet set off a barrage of replies from concerned users accusing Wikileaks of essentially threatening to dox — the act of publishing private or identifying material online — verified Twitter users.

At last count, a quarter of the 150,000 verified accounts on Twitter were believed to belong to journalists. The fourth largest percentage of verified accounts reportedly belong to companies or businessmen and women. By far, the smallest percentage (2.9 percent) belong to politicians.

Asked to clarify on what its intentions are, Wikileaks tweeted that is isn’t threatening to dox people, but instead wants “to develop a metric to understand influence networks based on proximity graphs.”

In another, tweet it added: “We are looking for clear discrete (father/shareholding/party membership) variables that can be put into our AI software. Other suggestions?” After facing yet more criticism, it also claimed it is not going to publish addresses, and that LinkedIn, Google, and Facebook already have their own proximity graphs.

It seems the furor around Wikileaks’ tweets was enough to prompt an indirect response from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who simply retweeted a tweet from the platform’s official safety account pertaining to the posting of private user info.

Twitter’s private information policy states that posting another person’s confidential information is a violation of its rules. It defines private data as credit card information, Social Security or other national identity numbers, addresses or locations that are considered and treated as private, nonpublic personal phone numbers, nonpublic personal email addresses, images or videos that are considered and treated as private under applicable laws, and intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject’s consent.

However, Twitter also adds that it takes a number of other contextual details into account when determining if its policy has been violated on a per-case basis. The company states: “For example, if information was previously posted or displayed elsewhere on the Internet prior to being put on Twitter, it may not be a violation of this policy.”

We reached out to Dorsey for a response, but did not immediately receive a reply. The fact is, if Wikileaks makes good on its claims, Twitter will be forced to respond directly. After all, the privacy policy tweeted by the Twitter CEO only applies to info published on its site, whereas Wikileaks’ is threatening to create an external database.

Twitter came under fire last year when it was revealed that surveillance firms were using its public user data (which the company provides to developers via an application programming interface and its Gnip enterprise data products) to create tools that were being marketed to and used by law enforcement in the U.S. In response, Twitter cut off access to its tools for two of the firms in question (Geofeedia and Dataminr), and it also warned that developers caught violating its policy would be cut off from its data or suspended. However, Wikileaks does not have permission to use Twitter’s public API tools, so it will be interesting to see how it goes about building its proposed database.

Wikileaks’ tweets come in the wake of a televised interview in which its founder, Julian Assange, told Fox News that his organization did not receive its information about the Democratic National Committee from Russia, or anyone associated with the Russian government. After the interview aired, President-elect Donald Trump made reference to Assange’s assertion in a tweet.

Earlier this year, Wikileaks repeated its claims that it plans to start its own social network, a declaration it first made in 2012. Nothing has materialized as of yet.

Updated 01/06/2017 by Saqib Shah: Added that Wikileaks has deleted its original tweet

Social Media

Tumblr promises it fixed a bug that left user data exposed

A bug on blogging site Tumblr left user data exposed. The company says that once it learned of the flaw, it acted quickly to fix it, adding that it's confident no data linked to its users' accounts was stolen.
Social Media

Grow your Twitter audience overnight with these simple tips and tricks

Using Twitter can be intimidating, but these tips will help you feel less inadequate when you look at your follower count. As long as you use a bit of moderation, you'll soon be one step closer to social media fame.
Social Media

Twitter has sorted out those weird notifications it was sending

Twitter started churning out weird notifications of seemingly nonsensical letters and numbers to many of its users on Tuesday morning. The bizarre incident even prompted Twitter boss Jack Dorsey to get involved.
Mobile

Hinge's new feature wants to know who you've gone out on dates with

With its new "We Met" feature, Hinge wants to learn how your dates are going with matches in its app. That way, it can inject the information into its algorithm to provide future recommendations that better suit its users' preferences.
Social Media

These are the best ways to make an animated GIF

Love sharing GIFs with your friends and peers, but wish you could make your own? Here's how to do so in Photoshop, or using a few other methods that don't require you to shell out a premium fee with each calendar year.
Social Media

Like a pocketable personal stylist, Pinterest overhauls shopping tools

Pinterest shopping just got a bit better with a trio of updates now rolling out to Pinterest. The first replaces Buyable Pins with Product Pins for more features, including knowing whether or not a product is in stock.
Computing

Adobe’s craziest new tools animate photos, convert recordings to music in a click

Adobe shared a glimpse behind the scenes at what's next and the Creative Cloud future is filled with crazy A.I.-powered tools, moving stills, and animation reacting to real-time tweets.
Smart Home

Facebook’s new Portal device can collect your data to target your ads

Facebook confirmed that its new Portal smart displays, designed to enable Messenger-enabled video calls, technically have the capability to gather data on users via the camera and mic onboard.
Social Media

YouTube is back after crashing for users around the world

It's rare to see YouTube suffer serious issues, but the site went down around the world for a period of time on October 16. It's back now, and we can confirm it's loading normally on desktop and mobile.
Photography

Adobe MAX 2018: What it is, why it matters, and what to expect

Each year, Adobe uses its Adobe MAX conference to show off its latest apps, technologies, and tools to help simplify and improve the workflow of creatives the world over. Here's what you should expect from this year's conference.
Home Theater

Facebook might be planning a streaming box for your TV that watches you back

Facebook is reportedly working on a piece of streaming media hardware for your living room with a built-in camera for video calls, something people may not want given the company's recent controversies.
Social Media

Over selfies and an onslaught of ads? Here's how delete your Instagram account

Despite its outstanding popularity and photo-sharing dominance, Instagram isn't for everyone. Thankfully, deleting your account is as easy as logging into the site and clicking a few buttons. Here's what you need to do.
Social Media

Some major Facebook investors want to oust Zuckerberg after scandals

After multiple scandals, Facebook investors are proposing founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg leave his position as chairman. The group says that making the position independent would remove Zuckerberg's "unchecked corporate power."
Social Media

Want internet immortality? Here's how to make the best memes

From Bad Luck Brian to Overly Attached Girlfriend, there's no shortage of memes in the world. But, there's always room for one more. Here's a quick rundown of memes and a guide on how to make your own.