SAN FRANCISCO — WikiLeaks is taking heat for saying it wants to publish the private information of hundreds of thousands of verified Twitter users.
A Twitter account associated with the group said an online database would include such sensitive details as family relationships and finances.
"We are thinking of making an online database with all 'verified' twitter accounts & their family/job/financial/housing relationships," the WikiLeaks Task Force account tweeted Friday. The tweet has since been deleted.
The account then tweeted: "We are looking for clear discrete (father/shareholding/party membership) variables that can be put into our AI software. Other suggestions?"
Wikileaks told journalist Kevin Collier on Twitter that the organization wants to "develop a metric to understand influence networks based on proximity graphs."
Twitter bans the use of Twitter data for "surveillance purposes." In a statement, Twitter said: "Posting another person's private and confidential information is a violation of the Twitter rules."
.@kevincollier No it is to develop a metric to understand influence networks based on proximity graphs.— WikiLeaks Task Force (@WLTaskForce) January 6, 2017
Twitter declined to say how many of its users have verified accounts but the Verified Twitter account which follows verified accounts currently follows 237,000. Verified accounts confirm the identity of the person tweeting by displaying a blue check mark.
Twitter says it verifies an account when "it is determined to be an account of public interest." Twitter launched the feature in 2009 after celebrities complained about people impersonating them on the social media service.
WikiLeaks says what it seeks to do is not different than what Wikipedia or LinkedIn do, mapping relationships.
"The idea is to look at the network of *relationships* that influence — not to publish addresses," it tweeted late Friday.
Twitter users blasted the Wikileaks proposal. Wikileaks has come under fire in the past for disclosing personal information such as social security numbers in the documents it publishes.
If you're verified on Twitter, Wikileaks is considering figuring out where you live and the names of your children. Really. pic.twitter.com/xkvFcKxU1j— Scott McGrew (@ScottMcGrew) January 6, 2017
@WLTaskForce I think this plan is creepy, I think you're creepy and I hope someone breaks into your house and rearranges your sofa cushions.— Ethan Lawrence (@EthanDLawrence) January 6, 2017