The #WikiLeaks Furore

When you are an avid Twitter user, you realise that within seconds of anything happening anywhere across the globe, you are appraised of the event – possibly with photos and a good footage – provided you “follow” the right people, of course. Twitter is very very powerful in that aspect. So powerful, in fact, that the top brass of the company don’t even have a goal as to what the site intends to be.

But, if you’re an avid Twitter user, much like any source of information that is user controlled and free, it tends to be misleading. There are many instances of this happening. The most recent that comes to mind, though, is the WikiLeaks drama that has been escalated from a small regular incident of the freedom of press being violated into an international drama involving most of Europe, the inevitable US of A and the Interpol (?)

So, what is all the furore about? Yours truly went investigating online yesterday out of pure boredom and found out many interesting facts.

WikiLeaks was a site founded by this fellow called Julian Assange – who has been in the news for the last few days without a break. It’s what they call a whistleblower site. The site believes in Right to Information for the common man and the Freedom of Press and did anything from shady deals to honest over the table payments to get their hands on classified documents which were not meant to be seen by the general public.

Now, the inherent problem with these sites that believe they serve a “higher cause” or the “greater good” is that they never realise the repercussions of their actions. So, instead of analysing whether the documents had information that nobody should EVER see, they leaked all of it – albeit in batches.

There are some people you can piss off and get away with, some people you should never piss off and then there is the US of A. An epitomisation of power gone wrong, in my opinion – I’m still surprised the country manages to hold together as a supposed “superpower”. So, the dudes in the government of USA were really pissed with documents reaching WikiLeaks and they couldn’t understand who the “mole” was in their organisation who had such top level clearance. They became even more pissed with the latest batch of documents which contained cables of diplomatic conversations. Now, talk all you want about freedom of press,but that is some serious shit to put out for the world to see and can lead to wars.

Since they were not sure they would succeed in finding the rat, they started using all their political clout against WikiLeaks, trying to heap allegations on the site and shut it down. They tried a variety of attacks ranging from “This is just wrong! Hmph!” to “Dude, seriously man, stop putting all our shit out for the world to see!”.

Most of the companies which were supporting WikiLeaks indirectly – Amazon.com was providing servers, EveryDNS was providing the … DNS; Visa, MasterCard and PayPal were allowing transactions online to the wikileaks website – started calling off their support. EveryDNS took down the DNS entry for the site. Amazon stopped providing servers to the site – thanks to this US Senator called Joe Lieberman. Visa, MasterCard and PayPal went ahead and cut off their ties with the site as well. This series of support-withdrawals led to a mass media coverage and outrage from every reporter worth his weight in paper or digital media.

But the site survived since there were still servers willing to support it and it didn’t matter any longer if it didn’t get a DNS (clarification – DNS is what your URL is called from the server side of things). At one point, Twitter had updates which gave IP addresses as to where the WikiLeaks site was located. I guess that was fine with the world since they now had something to protest about and also, their favourite whistleblower site was still up and running. Some people didn’t like it though.

Chief among them was a group of hackers called just “Anonymous” who presumably met on 4chan. Pissed over what these sites did to WikiLeaks by withdrawing support, they started organising DDoS attacks on the site servers. DDoS – Distributed Denial of Service attacks are simple to orchestrate but difficult to synchronise. The idea is that you simply overload the servers with so many simultaneous requests that it either shuts down or times out all other requests temporarily. This basically means the site is no longer usable. They became so audacious as to post when exactly they would attack. For instance, they took down the MasterCard site and then, about a few hours later, put up an update saying that the Visa site would be down in an hour. yours Truly checked a minute after the said hour and lo and behold, the site was down. They gave warnings of an attack on Amazon servers as well. But later on, they called it off citing that it was too huge right now and the attack would be done in future. Sweeeeet!

So, coming back to the site, it was up and running. Now, US of A was still perturbed because those Diplomatic cables were there for the world to see as were their dirty little secrets. So, instead of attacking the site, they went after Julian Assange, the founder. Out of nowhere, Assange gets a reward on his head because he is suspected in a case of rape. Now, here comes the best part – it seems the sex was consensual but once the condom broke, the woman wanted it to stop but Assange didn’t. I laughed so hard when I heard this 😀 .. pathetic, these allegations. Seriously, I thought the guys behind it would come up with something better. Now, the whole drama has become a cheap Bollywood movie and I hope TR becomes part of the judge panel 😀

t-rajendar

Man, does he crack me up! 😀

Anyway, to get back to the point, Julian Assange has been arrested and the whole of twitter is following his every move right now. The media, when misused, is the most dangerous weapon on the planet. But when misused over a certain extent, it starts to get boring. Whenever something new pops up, it splashes the headlines for a week and raises the TRP of all news channels. But it dies out as other things replace it. The social media, though, is where all news can be followed through every update. For example, the #wikileaks channel is buzzing with news and will still be, long after the news channels stop reporting on it and moving to something else.

Basically, I feel the purpose of Twitter is that the social media gets free rein – which is the best way to spread news anywhere on the planet.

This and That *ramble ramble*

These days when you want to express something on the web or share something interesting, there appear to be a LOT of ways. For instance, among my friends, facebook seems to be a very permeating phenomenon.

Self styled web 2.0 elitists like me though give vent to all feelings and share information on almost all famous sites. The reason? It is a complicated one but what other job have I, lying down on the bed at 3 in the night and using the wordpress app to do what this post is describing.

But I digress as usual. The reason all elitists use all the networks possible is threefold.

The first – we don’t know which of these sites will survive the test of time (relates to very very bad pun if you’ve just spent the evening seeing PoP:SoT). Each of these sites has very high potential but no one is ever sure which is the best of them. For instance, Yahoo! has damn near died even though it had major hype for quite some years. For web visionaries (I’m starting to become delusional giving myself all these weird names, I swear), none of these are the ultimate social networking sites while all of them put together are.

The second reason – loss of information. The web has also become a major storage house of personal media and information. The very thought of losing any of this information gives some people the creeps. This is a branch off from reason 1 since dying company ==> loss of information. I personally trust google to never clear it’s storage banks (which contains MOST of my digital online data).

The third reason – being hip and happening. There are times when the newest start ups catch on so soon that people are amazed by it. The ones who were with the service from the start become these undesignated yet unanimously anointed “pro members” kinda users and get this fan following. Say what you want but having a web following is something else when you realise that the guy or chic who is admiring your work is from another part of the world 🙂

In my case, I have only few services I use to share feelings, links, info and all that – twitter, facebook, google buzz and wordpress.

Facebook and wordpress are obvious candidates. Twitter and Google Buzz is redundant usage since both are micro blogging sites. So redundant that my accounts in both sites are connected. What I post in one place, goes to the other which saves me unwanted trouble with copying pasting and all that. One of the two can survive.

Twitter is the pioneer. I cannot say whether it’s good or bad since whatever they do is the first thing ever of that kind in microblogging. So yeah, they have high chances of surviving. Google Buzz was a new startup and they started promoting the service in a revolutionary way (typical google). They provided mobile users with location based services and the ability to simply post online with a photo and all that on the go. All other social networks caught on a little later to this concept.

Social networks intrigue me a lot. As I said before, I’ve always believed one of the greatest goals of techonology was building the perfect social network (apart from solving multi dimensional equations, invent time travel, find the theory of everything and all that).

Anyway, typing on the phone is pretty cool (what with my supremely modded fyodor ROM and all that) but it’s getting painful. So yeah … adios!