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Is Gawker Trying To Smear Wikileaks In Their Ongoing Tension With Facebook?

(From TWD)

In the last development between tension between Wikileaks and Facebook (as well as Facebook’s latest possible disturbing actions), the social protocol giant took down the "fan-generated" Wikileaks page that had 30,000 people on board and had been operating for a few years. For the moment however, the Wikileaks "Official Fan Page" on Facebook is still up.

So unsurprisingly, Wikileaks tweeted about that 30,000 fan-generated page being taken down out of nowhere.

In its usual snarky tone that can either make you love them or hate them, Gawker and their writer for this story in Adrian Chen points out the Facebook and Wikileaks acrimony from the past, highlighting the following episode in 2008.

In short as you will see from the link, a Swiss bank named Julius Baer wanted to sue someone at Wikileaks for posting stolen documents of one of its clients. Since Wikileaks owners are basically specialist in being incognito and anonymous (up until the recent interviews with Julian Assange), Baer decided that suing an officer on its then Facebook fan page in 2008 was the right way to go.


In the course of the trial, Julius Baer subpoenaed an officer of a Wikileaks Facebook page, mistaking him for an officer of Wikileaks itself. According to Network World, Julius Baer’s lawyer sent the following to the guy—a Stanford student named Daniel Matthews:

Wikileaks lists you as an officer of the company on its Facebook page. As an officer of a defendant in this action, my client is entitled to serve you a copy of the summons and complaint pursuant to Rule 4(h)(1)(B) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

And Gawker’s Chen writes from the thought that Matthews was possibility not very happy with having to represent Wikileaks instead of true owners of the site like Julian Assange:

Since Julius Baer wasn’t able to get hold of a real Wikileaks employee—scattered worldwide as they are—some random Stanford student had to go to trial on their behalf in a high profile lawsuit. (He was listed as the "Stanford representative" of Wikileaks on the page.) He was not pleased. And the possibility of Facebook users being sued simply for belonging to groups probably gave Facebook headaches, too. (The suit resulted in Wikileaks being shut down for a bit by a judge, before the bank ultimately withdrew their case.)

But when you click on that link, it tells a far different story painting Wikileaks in a much better light while the banker as one with serious problems.

The judge rescinded his earlier decision of favoring the bank’s yearning for a restraining order on Wikileaks. He (who is unidentified in the article) altered his original verdict thanks to pressure from civil liberties groups explaining how the major problems raised by his first decision.

Given a better understanding of the issues in the case, the judge this weekend rescinded the Dynadot agreement and the temporary restraining order. He also pointed out that federal courts are unable to take cases between two foreign nationals, and that he "may well lack subject matter jurisdiction over this matter in its entirety."

Not only that, but that Stanford student’s anger is directed to not to Wikileaks, but at the Swiss bank:

So why was a case between a Swiss bank and an anonymous group of wiki operators ever tried in a US court? One reason was that Dynadot was in California (though Dynadot had nothing to do with the content in question). Another was that Julius Baer said that Daniel Matthews, a Stanford graduate student in mathematics, was an "officer" of Wikileaks. And how did they know this? They read it on a Facebook page.

Matthews, who points out that he is only the "Stanford representative" for Wikileaks, says he knows nothing about the internal operations of the group, the owners of the site, or even what software they use to run it. He is an "officer" only of the Facebook group in question.

In a statement to the court, Matthews went on to take full aim at Julius Baer. "The crowning irony is that Plaintiffs—who purport to be shocked, shocked that Wikileaks has promised anonymity to leakers—are a Swiss bank and its Cayman Islands subsidiary," he said.

Gawker’s Chen writes that Facebook had "headaches" over this and that it is a reason why they have gone to this length now to take down Wikileaks fan page (since it’s Official page is still very much up).

But what "headaches" is Chen talking about if the case was then thrown out? And even if they do have "headaches", this is just a raw example of the digital information democratic age that we are currently in at the moment.

And we all know that with how "Mark Zuckerberg Inc." has become a billion dollar invention, Facebook faces legal headaches almost everyday, especially in regards to all of the rapid and sometimes controversial charges they have made over the last few years with the protocol. In addition, was this fan page necessary to even delete? It wasn’t like Facebook was receiving lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit about this page anyway from what it appears.

In short, Chen’s article in my mind is kind of a smear towards Wikileaks, an attempt to paint the organization as narcissistic complainers who are truly about themselves, are creepy, and really aren’t the full "truth-tellers" they claim to be.

It was very indolent of Chen and Gawker to just languidly say, "The suit resulted in Wikileaks being shut down for a bit by a judge, before the bank ultimately withdrew their case," when there are far more details towards that case.

And in my mind, it makes Gawker appear as not taking affinity, or full respect, of the impact Wikileaks has made in the last few weeks thanks to their usual very snarky tone.

(From TWD, have a great day folks, and thanks for even reading.)

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