What the heck is going on at WikiLeaks?
In the last two weeks, the font of digital secrets has doxed millions of Turkish women, leaked Democratic National Committee emails that made Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign look bad but also suggested the site was colluding with the Russian government, and fired off some seriously anti-Semitic tweets.
WikiLeaks is always going to be releasing information some people don’t like. That is the point of them. But lately the timing of and tone surrounding their leaks have felt a little off, and in cases like the DNC leak, more than a little biased. At times, they haven’t looked so much like a group speaking truth to power as an alt-right subreddit, right down to their defense of Milo Yiannopoulos, a (let’s be honest, kind of trollish) writer at Breitbart. But the way WikiLeaks behaves on the Internet means a lot more than some basement-dwelling MRA activist. “WikiLeaks’ initial self-presentation was as merely a conduit, simply neutral, like any technology,” says Mark Fenster, a lawyer at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law. “As a conduit, it made a lot of sense, and had a lot of influence, immediately. The problem is, WikiLeaks is not just a technology. It’s humans too.”
WikiLeaks has endangered individuals before, but their release of the so-called Erdogan Emails was particularly egregious. The organization said that the infodump would expose the machinations of Turkish president TKName Erdogan immediately after the attempted coup against him, but instead turned out to be mostly correspondence and personal information from everyday Turkish citizens. Worse, it included the home addresses, phone numbers, party affiliations, and political activity levels of millions of female Turkish voters. That’s irresponsible any time, and disastrous in the week of a coup.
The incident exposed gross negligence, though it’s true that …