Wikileaks has launched its own social network called Friends of Wikileaks (or WL Friends for short) as the whistleblowing website claims that Facebook sells users' information to governments and cannot be trusted.

WL Friends

WL Friends is a social network aimed at bringing like-minded people together who do not yet know each other, in contrast to Facebook, which is mostly about contact with friends that you already have - something that Wikileaks claims is pointless.

The website says: "Friends of WikiLeaks is a network of people from across the globe who defend WikiLeaks, its people, its alleged sources and its mission. We publicly and privately promote WikiLeaks and individuals and organisations aligned with the mission of WikiLeaks.

"This site will help you to join with people like you in your area and across the world. You will make new friends and new allies, care for treasured values and fight in common cause."

Before launching the social network on 20 May, Wikileaks listed a number of reasons stating why it claims WL Friends is better than Facebook - which floated two days previous for $104bn (£62bn).

"WL Friends introduces you to people you want to know, but don't know yet. Facebook connects you to people you already know - no point," the site said on Twitter, adding: "Facebook is a mass surveillance tool. You put friends into it, you betray your friends. Do friends betray friends?"

Signing up to WL Friends requires an email address and password, but instead of amassing hundreds or thousands of friends as on Facebook and Twitter, the Wikileaks alternative will find you six friends who share your views and are from your country.

The site then finds six more friends from other parts of the world who speak your language and will automatically replace any friend you remove.

WL Friends users will always have 12 friends in their close network, but of course all 12 of those could be part of others' networks, with the goal for "you and your friends to fight for common values"

"We need the network to be of a certain size before we can start introducing you to candidate friends," Wikileaks says.

Aside from comparing itself to Facebook, WL Friends also claims to boast data so heavily encrypted that Wikileaks administrators cannot read it, along with "military grade cryptography" and "homomorphic encryption for certain operations so WL Friends doesn't even know how many friends you have".

Wikileaks gave some clues as to where it wants WL Friends to go in the future, stating that the network is not just designed for its own site, but is "a general solution to build a robust support network under hostile conditions".

The site suggests on Twitter that the system could be used for "Friends of Israel, Friends of Palestine...Friends of Catholicism".

The site is currently in a beta stage of development and, once registered, nothing else will happen until the site has reached critical mass, then each user will be connected to 11 others.

It remains to be seen if WL Friends will be a success, but with almost 1.5 million Twitter followers, Wikileaks has a sizeable number of potential users to advertise to.