WikiLeaks Launches Anonymous, “Encrypted Facebook” For Hacktivists


We all know about WikiLeaks, right? It’s the organization headed by Julian Assange that leaked diplomatic cables and video of American helicopter gunships mowing down innocent civilians (and at least one Reuters journalist), among other bits of information the governments and corporations of the world might want to keep under wraps. Well, now there’s a place for all WikiLeaks sympathizers to congregate around shared philosophies and a love of cryptography and whatever else it is WikiLeakers might find enjoyable. FoWL (Friends of WikiLeaks), according to its welcome page:

is a network of people from across the globe who defend WikiLeaks, its people, its alleged sources and its mission. We publicly and privately promote WikiLeaks and individuals and organisations aligned with the mission of WikiLeaks. This site will help you to join with people like you in your area and across the world. You will make new friends and new allies, care for treasured values and fight in common cause.

FoWL’s stated goal is to “provide support (be it material, publicity, or other forms of solidarity) to any individual, organisation or agency that finds itself in peril as a result of conveying information to the public with the purpose of achieving a more just society.” The site primarily offers support to WikiLeaks and its contributors, but will “to any other collective who shares the beliefs and values of WikiLeaks and who finds itself at risk of retribution as a result of pursuing such values.” WikiLeaks announced the new social network on Twitter and included a list of 10 reasons why FoWL is better than social networking giant Facebook:

1.) WL Friends introduces you to people you want to know, but don’t know yet. Facebook connects you to people you already know – no point.

2.) Facebook is a mass surveillance tool. You put your friends into it, you betray your friends. Do friends betray friends? […] WLFriends wlfriends.org doesn’t know your friends. It introduces you to new friends.

3.) Facebook records everything you do, hands it over to the US government and corporations. WLFriends wlfriends.org doesn’t.

4.) WLFriends keeps your data so encrypted, not even the system amins can decrypt it. You and your friends decrypt on login automatically.

5.) WLFriends uses military grade cryptography and the best industry standards (OpenPGP + Elliptic Curves).

6.) WLFriends even uses homomorphic encryption for certain operations so WLFriends doesn’t even know how many friends you have…

7.) The more you use WLFriends, the less you use WLFriends. WLFriends is designed to build, not control, a robust network of shared value.

8.) WLFriends is designed for more than just WikiLeaks. It is a general solution to build a robust support network under hostile conditions.

9.) Friends of Israel, Friends of Palestine, Friends of the Tea Party, Friends of Catholicism are all possible with WL Friends.

10.) WL Friends is designed to make infiltration costly. No person can be seen to be more important than any other or individually targeted.

11.) WLFriends builds a strong support network instantly for any shared belief by connecting supporters in a way that maximizes communication.

12.) As time goes by the WLFriends network for any shared belief is designed to mathematically grow stronger and stronger.

Okay, so it went a little overboard on its “Top 10 Reasons” by a factor of 20 percent, but such enthusiasm can only serve to benefit WikiLeaks, which has played second fiddle to Anonymous (with respect to leaking sensitive data) in the nearly 18 months since Julian Assange was arrested in London on Swedish charges of attempted rape. This isn’t to say that FoWL is going to get 900 million users overnight, but hey, it’s a start.

Jason Rowley

Jason D. Rowley does not like being wrong. He is a writer, startup founder, sometimes landscaper and gardner, and his library’s best customer. Jason is heavily involved with the entrepreneurship scene at the University of Chicago, where he studied political science before “taking a break” (e.g. dropping out, noncommittally) to work with his classmates on his current project, which will debut shortly. He’s written voluminous, ripsnorting articles for Flyover Geeks (now Tech.li) for over six months and publishes on Tuesdays. Edward Domain and others have described him as “obstreperous”, a label he wears with not inconsiderable pride. Jason, in spite of these claims, is a pretty nice guy.

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