Yesterday, users who wanted to access the Stratfor Global Intelligence files on WikiLeaks were met with a popup screen that requested donations. Anonymous was not happy with the decision to implement what they called a “paywall” and asked the whistleblower site to remove it immediately.
Judging by a screenshot taken by TheNextWeb, the window included “Donate with Visa/MasterCard”, “Share”, “Donate other options” and “Tweet” buttons, along with a Barack Obama parody YouTube video.
“WE DO NOT MAKE MONEY WITH LEAKS. WE DESPISE ANYONE WHO DOES. Over and out,” AnonymousIRC tweeted.
The members of the People’s Liberation Front were even more upset with the fact that WikiLeaks had set up the donations page for users who wanted to see the classified files.
“@WikiLeaks | How totally [expletive] arrogant. You know what, taking it down isn't enough. You remove it and apologize or [expletive] EXPECT US,” they wrote.
On the other hand, WikiLeaks representatives defended their decision by saying that “a tweet, share, wait or donate campaign is not a ‘paywall’.”
Then, they provided methods for bypassing the controversial donation window.
In the end, WikiLeaks gave in to the threats and completely removed the “paywall” and once again became friends with the members of the famous hacktivist community.
“Generally: We are friends with @Wikileaks. Still are. And friends will talk brutal but honestly if necessary. A lousy friend stays quiet,” AnonymousIRC’s words of wisdom said.
WikiLeaks’ decision to instate the eye poking donation page came after for the past couple of years it was forced to set up alternative ways to receive money from supporters. Back in 2010, important payment processors, including PayPal, MasterCard, Bank of America and Visa, imposed a blockade which “destroyed” 95% of the organization’s revenue.
Despite the payment workarounds, WikiLeaks claims to be lacking the necessary funds to sustain its operations, which is why it launched its “Vote for WikiLeaks” fundraising campaign.