Originally posted on somewordsbymike:
Everyone likes a secret, hearing one is both exciting and empowering, and delivering one lifts the burden of carrying it. But when is a secret to big to tell and what are the consequences of letting it out, especially when you’re telling virtually everyone? Julian Assange knew a secret, millions in fact, and decided to tell everyone all about it via his Wikileaks website. Was Assanges secret too big to tell? Was it investigative journalism or a plain act of malicious diplomatic shit stirring? Should the freedoms of the Internet permit risk taking with such important information or is there a line in freedom of speech whereby if you step far enough over it, the repercussions start to look a lot worse than they would have been had the secret remained a secret? All these questions have been asked and answered to some degree with regards to Wikileaks’ approach to journalism.
The whistle blowing format has created a conflict between the importance of exposing secrets in the public interest and the right to keep secrets secret. As with most things encompassing investigative journalism, there are two prominent arguments, both with significant merit. On the one hand there is an argument that states it is the role of journalism to provide an accurate account of the truth. On the other, there is an argument that states that sometimes certain information should be kept from the public for the benefit of the public.
Wikileaks, the most cited whistle blowing website is a drop box type platform which allows anonymous users to submit information for review which is deemed important to the public interest. The issues surrounding the site however are formulated on whether an organisation without established journalistic credentials should be permitted to release highly sensitive information to the public. Many would argue that such sensitive information should be in the public domain as it exposes those in the wrong. Furthermore, they would suggest that anything but putting such information in the public sphere would constitute a breech in freedoms of speech that the Internet offers. In much of what was released through arguably Wikileaks biggest leak to date there is a strong case that it should have been released to the public. The very nature of the leak exposed and proved that many of the preconceptions people had about the U.S. administration were correct. As a result of this, presumably there were many people patting themselves on the back for thinking what was right all along. Having said this, there were probably as many people on the other side of the fence screaming that the information that was leaked was going to do a lot more harm, particularly on the international stage, than people making themselves feel good.