Today, information is discussed as one of the most important values. The development of the Internet and media support the idea that people need more information every day, and they are inclined to use any resources to receive the necessary facts or data. The circulation of information on the Internet with the help of the media is the characteristic feature of the developing globalization. Several decades ago, people had no access to a lot of information resources because of the time and space limits.
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Nowadays, the situation changes and the Internet provides people with a lot of information on any topic. Thus, modern society is dependable on the successful circulation of information. From this point, the development of such resources as WikiLeaks is the logical consequences of the public’s searching for more information and facts.
Although there are both critics and supporters of the idea of WikiLeaks, it is important to note that WikiLeaks contributes to developing transparency, supports the people’s right for free speech, and satisfies the society’s needs in receiving factual and unedited information; thus, WikiLeaks can be discussed as the new variant of the information source which is more fair and open for the society in comparison with the traditional media.
Thus, researchers discuss WikiLeaks as the contemporary social issue which is associated with the main features of the modern world development such as globalization, global community, search for information, transparency, openness, fairness, freedom of speech and press, and democracy. Like any other social issue, the phenomenon of WikiLeaks can be examined from many perspectives about its positive and negative effects on society (Pulda 473).
That is why it is important to focus on the purpose of WikiLeaks as it is stated on the website of this organization. According to the WikiLeaks website, “Our goal is to bring important news and information to the public” (“What is Wikileaks?” par. 1). Moreover, it is pointed out that “one of our most important activities is to publish source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth” (“What is Wikileaks?” par. 1).
In this case, WikiLeaks can be considered as the archive of documents and sources which are not paraphrased or interpreted by journalists as in the traditional press. The main difference between the sources presented on the WikiLeaks website from the other media is their secret character.
Many materials released by WikiLeaks are secret and provided by anonymous ‘whistleblowers.’ This fact is the main reason to discuss WikiLeaks as a social challenge and as the resource which is threatening for the public. Thus, it is one of the perspectives to discuss the role of WikiLeaks in society.
According to the other point of view, WikiLeaks is the modern way to state the freedom of speech and press and to provide the possibilities for the public to learn facts and controversial materials without any censorship. Thomass states that “it is a long-standing tradition in democratic states that the public’s right to know is a fundamental element in the political structure of a state or nation” (Thomass 20).
From this point, WikiLeaks responds to the people’s right to receive access to important information and the ideals of the democratic society. The society is in constant progress, and WikiLeaks is the symbol of the contemporary society oriented to transparency and openness as the support for democratic principles. The controversy of the materials provided by WikiLeaks is questionable, along with the illegal character of the information presented on the website.
Critics are inclined to accuse WikiLeaks in the provision of the secret materials and classified information which can be discussed as the illegal actions and violation of privacy laws. However, the presentation of the provocative materials on the WikiLeaks website has a lot of similarities with providing the problematic journalists’ investigations during which journalists can find a lot of secret information and use it in their investigations.
WikiLeaks does not violate the laws on free speech and privacy when the prohibition of the WikiLeaks’ activities can be considered as illegal. According to the claims of “a high-tech terrorist” Julian Assange, who is the founder of WikiLeaks, the mission of the website is to support the war on secrecy (Thomass 18; Roberts 16). This formulation of the mission is correlated with the ideas of many people who want to receive the truthful information on the situation in the world.
Nevertheless, it is almost impossible to deny the fact that WikiLeaks has significant consequences on the development of modern society and people’s attitudes to information and its sources. Thus, ‘whistleblowing’ can be discussed today as the relevant source for receiving the necessary information as well as attempts to rely on the other anonymous sources.
Focusing on the provision of sources and documents, WikiLeaks contributes to the development of democratic discourse, and the principle of transparency becomes closer to the public. It is stated on the website of the organization, “the broader principles on which our work is based are the defence of freedom of speech and media publishing, the improvement of our common historical record and the support of the rights of all people to create new history” (“What is Wikileaks?” par. 2).
That is why the reaction of society to the work of WikiLeaks is mainly positive because the organization’s activities meet the interests of the global community. For instance, there is a tendency to support the activities of WikiLeaks with organizing other websites with a similar mission and contents. Thomass states that “WikiLeaks is just the beginning or the symbol for the emergence of other revealers of sources which will become ubiquitous” (Thomass 18).
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The emergence of these websites can be explained with references to the people’s internal desire to know the truth in its original form, without editing. The critics of WikiLeaks pay attention to the concept of responsibility while discussing the negative consequences of developing the website. The provision of the classified information for open access can be risky for the persons mentioned in the sources. Nevertheless, WikiLeaks uses a definite policy to protect the public from the negative effects of the website’s activities.
Thus, WikiLeaks is the product and reflection of the modern society which strives for the open information and freedom of speech. However, WikiLeaks as a social issue cannot be discussed as a completely positive or negative phenomenon because of its controversial nature. More policies and laws should be developed to respond to the new approach to the availability of secret materials and classified information.
The principle of transparency is based on the idea that society has the right to receive access to information associated with different organizations, activities, and events without limitations. The principle of responsibility depends on the vision that not all the materials can be discussed as available for the public because of their nature (Ruppin 8). To find the fringe between the materials, the provision of which can or cannot result in a resonance and negative consequences is a rather difficult task.
That is why it is possible to state that today it is the responsibility of WikiLeaks to guarantee the protection for those persons who such a kind of transparency can influence negatively. This statement is appropriate to discuss the issues of indirect victims of releasing the secret information. Nevertheless, the materials can be denunciatory and help in discussing other problematic cases.
WikiLeaks is a controversial phenomenon, but it is the product of modern society. The great public support directed toward the protection of WikiLeaks and its activities accentuates the idea that modern people need more transparency and more freedom in interpreting different types of information.
In contrast to journalists’ investigations and information provided in the media, WikiLeaks presents the original materials, and the public can conclude about their relevance independently.
Much open and truthful information along with unprejudiced attitudes and independent visions are highly estimated in contemporary society, and the activities of WikiLeaks support these ideals, which are correlated with the principles of modern democracy. As a result, the social phenomenon of WikiLeaks is characterized by a lot of followers who share the ideals of the organization’s policy.
Pulda, Molly. “Unknown Knows: State Secrets and Family Secrets”. Biography 35.3 (2012): 472-491, 584-585.
Roberts, Alasdair. “The WikiLeaks Illusion”. The Wilson Quarterly 35.3 (2011): 16-21.
Ruppin, Adi. “Data Security in the Age of WikiLeaks”. Risk Management 58.5 (2011): 8-10.
Thomass, Barbara. “WikiLeaks and the Question of Responsibility within a Global Democracy”. European View 10.1 (2011): 17-23.
What is Wikileaks? 2011. Web. 13 Jul. 2013. <http://wikileaks.org/About.html>.