Anonymous members speak out about WikiLeaks’ fundraising tactics

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In the past, Anonymous has been among the most supportive of WikiLeaks and the mission behind it — which is still halfway true, but since everything seems to have funneled off into the ‘one man Julian Assange show,’ the majority of the hacktivist group no longer embraces the site.

AnonymousIRC released a statement on Pastebin yesterday, shortly after announcing their withdrawal of support for WikiLeaks via Twitter:

The end of an era. We unfollowed @wikileaks and withdraw our support. It was an awesome idea, ruined by Egos. Good Bye.

WikiLeaks is funded entirely through donations — which is fine, according to Anonymous, but the problem is how it began demanding users to donate money in order to access any content at all.

Since yesterday visitors of the Wikileaks site are presented a red overlay banner that asks them to donate money. This banner cannot be closed and unless a donation is made, the content like GIFiles and the Syria emails are not displayed.

That’s a great way for any donation-driven service to pull in a ton of donations in a short amount of time, but like Anonymous has already said, it clearly demonstrates that WikiLeaks’ primary focus has changed from releasing information and serving its users, to just another money-making scheme.

“The idea behind WikiLeaks was to provide the public with information that would otherwise be kept secret by industries and governments. Information we strongly believe the public has a right to know,” the statement said.

“But this has been pushed more and more into the background, instead we only hear about Julian Assange, like he had dinner last night with Lady Gaga. That’s great for him but not much of our interest. We are more interested in transparent governments and bringing out documents and information they want to hide from the public.”

I think I’ll have to agree with the group’s Pastebin statement — I’m all for establishing an online business or service and monetizing it to no end, but certainly not if you’re a not-for-profit organization who’s mission statement is to “bring important news and information to the public.”

Any organization – especially non-profit groups – needs funding to survive, but in the case of WikiLeaks, a fee shouldn’t be charged in order to access content — not if it wants to keep its credibility and supporters, anyway.

The banner has since been taken down, and Anonymous already made it clear that it still supports the original idea, and that it is completely in opposition to any legal action being taken against Assange;

It goes without saying that we oppose any plans of extraditing Julian to the USA. He is a content provider and publisher, not a criminal.

This whole ordeal could definitely cause some turbulence for WikiLeaks – a fair amount of content is believed to have been submitted by Anonymous in the past (including the recent Stratfor email cache).

So if Anonymous is cutting off ties to the organization, that could mean less information-leaks, and thus, less content for WikiLeaks.