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The Wikileaks Forum is a discussion forum which was launched on 2nd March 2011, aimed at creating a platform for people to discuss WikiLeaks related topics. 15 000 members are currently registered with the forum which houses 48 000 posts, documenting a variety of topics, in 25 languages.
The forum was created by Mark Goeder-Tarant with the help and support of WikiLeaks volunteers, and with the full knowledge and support from WikiLeaks, including WikiLeaks chief editor Julian Assange and WikiLeaks Spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson. Another version of the forum had been released three months earlier under the name of “Support Julian Assange Forum“ which was then managed by support-julian-assange.com. This forum was taken offline in February 2011 to make room for The WikiLeaks Forum which took approximately three weeks to create.
The general idea was to relieve the WikiLeaks Facebook Discussion Forum which generated an enormous workload for the administrators, and to create a separate forum to maintain the discussions. The WikiLeaks Facebook Discussion Forum was being maintained by three people at the time and it became evident that a larger staff team was required to enable the forum to function efficiently.
The cessation of the WikiLeaks Facebook Discussion Forum was announced by WikiLeaks at the end of March 2012 and taken off line on 1st Arpil 2012 by which time the new forum had established itself within the WikiLeaks community.
The original staff team consisted of seven administrators and approximately twenty-five moderators to help maintain the language based boards. Most of the information on the forum was focused on WikiLeaks issues publications, especially the leaks which at that point consisted of Cablegate, Collateral Damage, Afghan War Logs, Iraq War Logs and the Guantanamo Bay Files.
In order to expand the forums capabilities, approximately twenty-five language boards were added to the existing template to enable the information to be read and shared with non-English speakers.
The forum uses SMF as its core sotfware.
The forum moves to its own dedicated Server :
At the start, the forum was hosted on a shared account with a large US based hoster who after a while threatened to remove the WikiLeaks Forum from its servers due to the nature of the forum’s contents. The forum owner's position was that it was just a basic standard forum, offering WikiLeaks supporters the chance to get involved in debate and post more information they found to be important and relevant to the WikiLeaks cause. However, since the US hoster was causing the forum many problems and many instances of downtime, the forum’s creator was contacted and a request sent to WikiLeaks.org and the administrators, for financial funding in order to move the forum to a secure server in Europe. WikiLeaks' response was positive and indicated that a long term investment in the forum’s financial upkeep would be possible if the creator/owner could find a suitable solution. In June 2012 the forum was moved to a Central European hoster and a dedicated server package was purchased to be able to cope with the amount of traffic and insure no more down time.
Since WikiLeaks was enduring financial problems due to the banking blockade , sufficient funds were unavailable to help support the forum's financial needs so it had to be privately financed. This occured on 2nd March 2012. At this point in time, the forum was listed as an “ Endorsed WikiLeaks Support Site“ on the Wikileaks Supporters Page.
The Forum ran into problems in July 2012 when the administrators questioned the publications of the “ Syria Files“. The forum staff team suspected foul play from WikiLeaks and several comments from the forum owner, (who was also Administrator of the Official WikiLeaks Facebook account ), lead to WikiLeaks removing him from his post as the WikiLeaks Facebook Page Administrator. The forum administration team had serious doubts about whether the Syria Files had anything to do with the Wikileaks philosophy, and came to the conclusion that they did not wish for the forum to be a part of a propaganda war against a sovereign state. The WikiLeaks Forum's official announcement was made on 17th January 2013 and the Syria Files board was removed from the forum on the same date. This decision was seen as being in direct opposition to WikiLeaks’ interests and was highly debated, especially between staunch WikiLeaks supporters who accused the forum staff of being biased and of attacking Wikileaks interests”.
Since then, it has been reported that the Syria Files leak was the result of a hacking operation instigated by the FBI, with the collaboration of the hacktivist Sabu who transmitted the files to WikiLeaks. Around this time, tensions grew within the WikiLeaks community on Twitter due to some WikiLeaks Tweets and statements comparing the attacks on the US Embassy in Tripoli (Libya), to the alleged threat from the UK Metropolitan Police Service Officers to enter the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in order to arrest Julian Assange . The WikiLeaks Forum Twitter account was involved in heated debates which resulted in serious threats against the forum owner and his family : as a direct result, Mark Goeder-Tarant decided to close the forum, its Twitter account and all connected Facebook accounts. A new owner was found and the WikiLeaks Forum was re-launched five days later.
WikiLeaks removes the WikiLeaks Forum from its Supporters page
On 28th November 2012, WikiLeaks contacted the owner of the Forum and asked for a list of all 15.000 members email addresses including moderators and staff, for reasons which were not explained. As this would have been in breach with the local legislation, the owner refused to deliver the information and shortly after, the Forum’s endorsement statement was promptly removed from the WikiLeaks Supporters page. The new Forum status now reads “The "WikiLeaks Forum" is not run or endorsed by WikiLeaks and has no connection to WikiLeaks whatsoever.”
Just a few days after this event, the WikiLeaks Twitter account re-tweeted a message from a third party Twitter account to warn people not to visit The WikiLeaks Forum website as it was spreading malware and computer viruses . This was instantly challenged by the forum and these claims were found to be unsubstantiated by the originator of the tweet. WikiLeaks did not provide any evidence that the forum was infected with any kind of viruses or malware, and did not offer any explanation as to why it re-tweeted the third party message. Thorough checks, both internal and external, were carried out and no computer viruses or malware were found embedded in the forum's core software. Not one single complaint from guest or member was registered regarding the presence of virus or malware on The WikiLeaks Forum.
New Forum Owners
On 1st of February 2013 the forum ownership was transfered to a new owner who wishes to remain anonymous.
Current Forum activities
The forums concept has not changed since its creation. More Boards and sub-boards have been added and the forum has expanded its horizon, covering global events and paying more attention to the issue of whistleblowing, especially in light of current events revolving around Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, Barrett Brown and Michael Hastings. The forum was also involved with Zimbabwe’s anonymous activist Baba Jukwa and was able to interview him in regards with the upcoming Zimbabwe elections. The Forum had numerous sources in Turkey during the recent Turkish protests and received many eyewitness reports from activists and doctors involved in the events. The WikiLeaks Discussion Forum strives to gather documents covering global events and is not just restricted to WikiLeaks issues although this remains the main priority, it also encourages debates and discussions and has a team of volunteer translators.
Basic Forum Statistics since launch in March 2011, as of 07/09/2013 Total Members: 15491 Total Posts: 47214 Total Topics: 19616 Total Categories: 6 Total page views: 22.815.487