WikiLeaks: Friend or Foe?


I asked one of my roommates what she thought of the controversial website this morning and she responded, “Wait, what’s WikiLeaks?” The site has become huge in the past few months, if not days. Yet, it has slipped past the radar of many educated college students. Even the majority of those that are aware of its existence seem to get confused when the specifics of the site are discussed. But, seeing the impact this site is having on the world, it is definitely something everyone should know about.

Below is a brief guide to WikiLeaks, jam-packed with helpful links to help you understand the goings on of the Internet’s most controversial site (so be sure to click away).

What is it?

The site itself began in 2006. Wikileaks has published classified and private documents, submitted by secret sources, from the contents of Sarah Palin’s Yahoo email account to the Afghan War Diary, which documented the War in Afghanistan from 2004-2009.

WikiLeaks receives all of its information from “people who have access to controversial or classified documents, who either send them electronically or through the mail.” The editors of the site then determine what information is important or significant and publish it on the site.

Why is it controversial?

What should be kept secret and what should be made public? And, who is to determine the difference? Since the release of the Pentagon Papers in the ’70s, people have been asking that question.

The site doesn’t just publish U.S. documents, although the U.S. leaks have certainly garnered a ton of attention. WikiLeaks publishes secret information from all different countries. Their goal is to “[improve] transparency, and this transparency creates a better society for all people. Better scrutiny leads to reduced corruption and stronger democracies in all society’s institutions, including government, corporations and other organisations.”

Several days ago, WikiLeaks upped the ante of their website by announcing that they would publish classified U.S. diplomatic cables. The first of the documents have now begun to travel around the internet and to countless media outlets. And, the contents of the documents are definitely not going to help U.S. diplomatic relations.

What’s at risk?

“After more than eight years at war, how carefully are we even looking at Afghanistan?” asks The New Yorker‘s Amy Davidson in a summer piece about WikiLeaks. Is WikiLeaks crossing lines and putting the U.S. in danger… or is it simply informing the citizens about goings-on that we deserve to be in the know of?
What do you think about WikiLeaks? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
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