What's going on with WikiLeaks-Forum?
Monday, August 27, 2012
For a long time, the "Official WikiLeaks Forum" has been one of the most important WikiLeaks supporter projects, endorsed and frequently promoted by WikiLeaks via Facebook and Twitter. While it was widely assumed that the forum would be managed by WikiLeaks, it is actually owned and operated by one man only, calling himself "Z". He worked day and night to build up the forum and it's community. Moreover, Z also operates the website support-julian-assange.com and a myriad of Facebook pages like WikiLeaks - The Syria Files, Wikileaks Cablegate or WikiLeaks: The Global Intelligence Files.
On top of that, WikiLeaks granted Z to moderate the WikiLeaks Facebook page. With over 2 mio. "likes" (five times as much as the Guardian) this Facebook page attains enormous outreach. Each new link on this page gets thousands of clicks within a few hours. The power of this page allowed Z to distribute public audience to certain forum posts and to his Facebook pages as well. Thus, he was able to build his very own "WikiLeaks support empire".
Sadly, Z abused this power increasingly to pursue his own objectives. WikiLeaks moved away more and more, and finally revoked his permissions for the WikiLeaks Facebook page. Also, he was forced to remove the word "official" from the forum's name.
Z responded with a smear campaign against Assange, dressed up as "open discussion". On 20 August, a forum user posted an article entitled "Assange is in no greater danger of being extradited from Sweden than from the UK" on WLF, declared as press release. The author, "Ariana", shows up as "Jr. Member" but actually is a former WLF administrator and Z's girlfriend. He promoted this article immediately via Facebook and Twitter. On WLF's Facebook page this post remained on top position for seven days.
On WLF's Twitter account, Z aggressively defended the article with statements like "UK simply pointing to national law, not threatening" (the Ecuadorian embassy) while Ariana tweeted comments like "Kim II-Sung would have been so proud if he had some of the #assange supporters on his side as they hailed him 'the leader'."
Meanwhile, Z obviously seeks to conceal any dispute with WikiLeaks. Regarding to the disappearance of the word "official" from the forum's name he claimed that it only was removed "with the intent of enhancing open discussion, addressing controversial issues and allowing critque."
In a statement published today, Z hastened to assure that WLF "still is the official WikiLeaks forum.". As proof for it, he refers to WikiLeaks' Supporters page where the forum is mentioned as "endorsed supporter project". Cabledrum is also mentioned there while we definitely are not "official".
Update [Sep 05, 2012] After substantial personnel changes on WLF, Ariana now shows up as administrator again. WLF's most prominent moderator Green has left the forum in protest of the attacks against Assange.
Update [Jan 23, 2013] Today, Z admitted: "On 13.08.2012 wikileaks suddenly stated (to me) that they hadn't endorsed the forum." The date is remarkable since WLF's attacks on Assange began shortly later.
This are some selected tweets from @wikileaks_forum convo. See Twitter timelines for complete dialogues.