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Wikileaks' only 'friend' on Twitter could become target, too

TweetBackup 'evaluating the situation' that Amazon, Paypal have addressed

By Paul McNamara on Mon, 12/06/10 - 6:02am.

wikileaks-twitter

Under normal circumstances, the fact that your Twitter account is the only one being followed by one of the world's most recently famous organizations (run by one of the world's most infamous individuals) might seem the kind of publicity money cannot buy a startup.

In the case of TweetBackup, however, being so uniquely recognized by Wikileaks and its controversial founder Julian Assange, is nothing less than a ticking package of potential trouble, one the company tells me it learned of only days ago.

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Wikileaks has 403,000 followers on Twitter but in turn follows only TweetBackup, which as you might guess from the name provides a service that will on a daily basis back up all of your messages (tweets) as well as a list of your friends. The service and its 20,000-person customer list was acquired only a few weeks ago by Backupify, a 10-employee venture-backed startup based in Cambridge, Mass.

In order to avail yourself of the TweetBackup service, you must follow TweetBackup on Twitter, which undoubtedly explains why Wikileaks does so. And it's equally clear why Wikileaks would want to use a Twitter backup service: The United States government and many within private industry are doing their level best to see that Wikileaks is wiped off the Internet.

Amazon gave Wikileaks the boot from its Amazon Web Services last week after a phone call from the head of the United States Senate's Homeland Security Committee, although Amazon claims the ouster and the phone call were unrelated. Then Wikileaks was cut off by its Domain Name Service provider, EveryDNS.net. Paypal lowered the boom on Friday. And Tableau Software also washed its hands.

Given the trend, there has been speculation that this offensive could soon include the Twitter and Facebook accounts held by Wikileaks, although there has been no official indication from either company that Wikileaks is on thin ice.

Yesterday I asked Charlie Ungashick, vice president of marketing at Backupify, whether his company was contemplating taking any action toward its most famous customer or would be standing firmly by it.

"We just became aware of the Wikileaks account on Friday," he told me. "We're currently evaluating the situation."

He indicated that he may have "more info" to share this afternoon.

Wikileaks has certainly put them within its spotlight.

(Final note: When I followed Ungashick's Twitter account, it was suggested by Twitter that I might also like to follow two others: one belongs to Tim Ungashick, who I am going to assume is related to Charlie; and the other belongs to Newt Gingrich, who has urged that WikiLeaks be "closed down permanently and decisively"and called Assange "an enemy combatant." ... Coincidence, Twitter?)

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