Wikileaks: The Issue with Confidentiality

On July 22, Wikileaks released 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments from the Democratic National Committee

WikiLeaks’ 10 year anniversary press conference (Getty Images)

By Sharon Lin

The Progressive Teen Staff Writer


THERE HAS BEEN AN UNDENIABLE SURGE IN THE POPULARITY — or perhaps infamy — of Wikileaks during the 2016 Presidential Election. The online site known for its “leaked” government files and confidential information has played a role in influencing political agendas in the past, but the recent international intervention has largely influenced both the public perception of the organization, as well as the course of the election itself.

Beginning with the leak of the Democratic National Committee communique, the site has become notorious for publicizing humiliating, and often damaging, material about high-profile individuals. From the leaks of Communications Director Luis Miranda, National Finance Director Jordon Kaplan, and number of other core members of the committee, hundreds of confidential exchanges have been disclosed to the public, with a number of them detailing less-than-appropriate language about political figures within and outside of the DNC.

Emails have become a dirty word by association, especially when coupled with the equally controversial use of Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Nonetheless, it is easy to conflate controversy with corruption, and it certainly has become a far larger issue this season than ever before.

MUCH OF THE WORK OF WIKILEAKS HAS BEEN TOWARD FEAR-MONGERING the general public into a mindset of mistrust. Certainly, with Ecuador’s recent actions against Julian Assange, the founder and head of Wikileaks, there is still a feeling of unease among higher powers in regards to the potential actions of the organization in the coming weeks. While Ecuador’s actions can certainly be said to have originated from the threat that Assange poses towards the presidential election, the fact that a foreign nation has stepped in to help curb the damage is important to note.

Even so, the bulk of the damage done by the site has been in exposing targeted individuals, leading to the question of whether — ethical or not — Wikileaks has been more of a political hammer or a beacon of truth.

“Despite the site’s crystalline reputation as a messenger of truth, exposure only goes as far as the entities being exposed.”

The unfortunate answer points toward the former. Despite the site’s crystalline reputation as a messenger of truth, exposure only goes as far as the entities being exposed. Even with the seemingly bipartisan attitude that Wikileaks has held throughout the election season, it is fairly evident that this could not be further from the truth. The targeted attacks against the Democratic Party, especially when in conjunction with the role it provided in Russia’s expose, demonstrate that Wikileaks has undoubtedly acted within a political agenda, whether or not Assange denies these accusations.


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in February (Kirsty Wigglesworth / Associated Press)
“In fact, their very pandering towards conservative media becomes clear when a simple online search for their name yields results from a plethora of conservative news sources and almost none from bipartisan or left-wing media.”

While Wikileaks continues to affirm that their role is simply in providing information to the public regarding the positions taken by the Democratic Party in recent events, as well as private information into Clinton’s life, the fact that their positions have allowed for a conservative edge have not gone unnoticed. In fact, their very pandering toward conservative media becomes clear when a simple online search for their name yields results from a plethora of conservative news sources and almost none from bipartisan or left-wing media. While this may be perhaps a minor observation in the larger scheme, it certainly does show the extent to which Wikileaks has influenced individuals’ opinions of the presidential race.

Whether or not Wikileaks does affect the outcome of the race, it certainly has already had a negative influence on the way the general election is being perceived. The uproar it had caused within the DNC over the media manipulation over Senator Sanders’s campaign has yet to be forgotten from the public ear, and when coupled with the organization’s recent accusations — and affirmations — of collaboration with Russia, there has certainly been a splintering of opinion regarding the true intent of the group’s actions.


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