WikiLeaks, the organization that's published US diplomatic communications and purported emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chief John Podesta, has proposed tracking personal details of Twitter users with verified identities.
"We are thinking of making an online database with all 'verified' twitter accounts & their family/job/financial/housing relationships," the WikiLeaks Task Force said on Twitter on Friday. In another tweet it said, "We are looking for clear discrete (father/shareholding/party membership) variables that can be put into our AI software."
In response to a concern that such a move could harm privacy, WikiLeaks responded, "No it is to develop a metric to understand influence networks based on proximity graphs" and proceeded to defend the idea with further tweets. Later in the evening, however, the original controversial tweet describing the idea was deleted.
Verified accounts sport a blue checkmark to indicate Twitter has checked identification credentials to ensure Twitter users are who they say they are. It's widely used with celebrities, politicians and members of the press, but Twitter has expanded the verification program more widely.
Also on Friday, Twitter's @safety account tweeted that "posting another person's private and confidential information is a violation of the Twitter Rules."
WikiLeaks didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. Twitter declined to comment beyond reiterating the @safety account information.
First published January 6, 12:12 p.m. PT.
Update, 1:16 p.m to add link to Twitter @safety account comment, at 5:31 p.m. to note that the original tweet describing the controversial idea has been deleted, and at 5:56 p.m. to add Twitter comment.