Is Wikipedia an open encyclopedia or a covert disinformation operation?
Wikipedia is generally thought of as an open, transparent, and mostly reliable online encyclopedia. Yet upon closer inspection, this turns out not to be the case.
Furthermore, studies have shown that 80% of all Wikipedia content is written by just 1% of all Wikipedia editors, which again amounts to just a few hundred mostly unknown people.
Obviously, such a non-transparent and hierarchical structure is susceptible to corruption and manipulation, the notorious “paid editors” hired by corporations being just one example.
For instance, in 2015 a German Wikipedia administrator was exposed as a project manager at pharmaceutical company Merck who was whitewashing Wikipedia articles on Merck’s history and products. Yet despite the exposure, the manager remained a Wikipedia administrator.
Already in 2007, researchers found that one of the most active and influential English Wikipedia administrators, called “Slim Virgin”, was in fact a former British intelligence informer.
Also in 2007, researchers found that CIA and FBI employees were editing Wikipedia articles on controversial topics, including the Iraq war and the Guantanamo military prison.
In Germany, one of the most aggressive Wikipedia editors was exposed, after a two-year legal battle, as a political operative formerly serving in the Israeli army as a foreign volunteer.
In fact, the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs is known to coordinate activists in numerous countries who extensively edit Wikipedia and other websites to reflect Israeli interests.
Even in Switzerland, unidentified government employees were caught whitewashing Wikipedia entries about the Swiss secret service just prior to a public referendum about the agency.
Many of these Wikipedia personae are editing articles almost all day and every day, indicating that they are either highly dedicated individuals, or in fact, operated by a group of people.
In addition, articles edited by these personae cannot easily be revised, since the above-mentioned administrators can always revert changes or simply block disagreeing users altogether.
The primary goal of these covert campaigns appears to be promoting establishment and industry positions while destroying the reputation of critics. Because of this, German watchdog group Wiki-Radar described Wikipedia as “one of the most dangerous websites on the internet”.
Articles particularly affected by this kind of manipulation include medical, political, and certain historical topics as well as biographies of non-compliant academics, journalists, and politicians.
Indeed, many Wikipedia manipulators belong to a group called the “Skeptics”, an obscure organization that is “skeptical” of people challenging official positions and narratives. Former German intelligence chief Dr. Helmut Roewer descibed them as a “cult-like criminal organization” serving as “cyber warriors” for both corporations and intelligence services.
The current Wikimedia CEO, Katherine Maher, previously worked at the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) as well as at a subgroup of the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a CIA front organization specialized in global influence operations and regime changes.
Moreover, US social media and video platforms are increasingly referring to Wikipedia to frame or combat “controversial” topics. The revelations discussed above may perhaps help explain why.
To add at least some degree of transparency, German researchers have developed a free web browser tool called WikiWho that lets readers color code just who edited what in Wikipedia.
In many cases, the result looks as discomforting as one might expect.
- Wikipedia – A Tool Of The Ruling Elite (On Contact, 2018, 25 minutes)
- George Galloway: “I have finally identified Philip Cross” (TalkRadio, 2018)
- Wikipedia co-founder: I no longer trust the website I created (Unherd, 2021)
- Wikipedia and the Intelligence Services (OhMyNews, 2007)
- CIA, FBI computers used for Wikipedia edits (Reuters, 2007)
- Spies in Wikipedia (Computerra Magazine, 2007, archived)
- What we know about SlimVirgin (Wikipedia Review, 2007)
- Wikipedia and the Spooks – The Remake? (Intel Today, 2018)
- The Mystery Wikipedia Editor Targeting Anti-War Sites (ML, 2018)
- Wikipedia: Rotten to the Core (Helen Buyniski, 2018)
- Time to ditch Wikipedia? (Five Filters Analysis, 2018)
- Wikipedia Editing Scandal Continues (Neil Clark, 2019)
- Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (FreeWiki, 2019)