Monday, December 13, 2010

My Inconsequential Take on WikiLeaks

A disclaimer: All that follows is my own useless and unresearched thoughts on WikiLeaks.

Let us first set aside the ethics debate about WikiLeaks, for it will mire us. Instead, I ask the question, if I am an entity interested in my own gain, how is it possible to utilize the current state of affairs to my own advantage?

The current state of affairs is, of course, the great attention paid by the media on the interesting revelations provided by WikiLeaks. A number of them are shocking, even. The nature of such news provokes a limited response from the agencies exposed in such disclosures; limited denials, claims that such information is confidential and obtained illegally, or weak distractions pointing to the potential dangers caused by the disclosure. Sometimes there is no official comment, an attempt to bury the issue.

Such official responses do not help to clarify the exposed information. Understandable, considering that it is a PR disaster and the best response is often to distance oneself from it and hope that it is forgotten. Unfortunately, this very response may be exploited for the propagation of false, and possibly malicious, information.

I believe it is possible to create some fake "revelation" and "disclose" it online, possibly spread by social media. Not difficult, just a tweet or a Facebook post linking to a page discussing the newest "leak", supported by perhaps one or two links to similarly crafted pages of equal veracity. I doubt that anyone performs any serious fact checking, since the confidential nature of the disclosures prevents verification. After a few rounds of amplification on the nets, more analysis and posts discussing the leak will appear, eventually forming a self-perpetuating network of "facts" surrounding the leak. It is even possible to pull the original sources offline after a while, claiming that they were removed due to "intervention", which would further add an aura of authenticity to the whole charade.

I'm not claiming that doing this is good, of course. I'm just saying it could be done. Perhaps it has already.

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