What’s Wikileaks?

Wikileaks, that profound leaker of classified government documents, is pretty much just that: It’s a non-profit media organization that publishes documents submitted by anonymous sources and leaks. The website wikileaks.org was founded and launched in 2007 by Australian journalist and activist Julian Paul Assange.

Despite its reputation as a whistleblower, the site has earned a number of awards, including the 2008 Economist magazine New Media Award and Amnesty International’s UK Media Award for its work in 2008. Much of its work has been to outing human rights violations, political missteps, government censorship, details of war crimes, and government intelligence.

One common misconception about Wikileaks is that it is part of the Wikipedia empire. (In fact, even Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made this mistake when questioning the legitimacy of the most recently leaked documents, noting that “the seriousness of Wikipedia is doubtful.”) A fundamental difference between the two, which the Wikipedia itself notes, is that unlike the open-editing credo of Wikipedia entries, once Wikileaks material cannot be altered by the public once published.

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