Wikipedia has become a bastion of establishment propaganda that no longer even pretends to be neutral on the controversies of the day, and this is very dangerous to society, explained Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger on Conversations That Matter with The New American magazine’s Alex Newman.
This undermining of neutrality, partly by banning many non-establishment sources, is affecting and angering both the right and left.
About 15 years ago, a scan of IP addresses involved in editing Wikipedia found that an unusually high number came from Langley, Virginia, where the Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”) is headquartered.
“I’m sure it’s not just the CIA,” he said, noting that humanity was facing “information warfare.” “It isn’t just spy agencies.”
Sanger also offers insights into how humanity can free itself from this narrative control. These include Internet decentralisation and new services he is working on such as the Knowledge Standards Foundation and the Encyclosphere, a universal network of encyclopaedias.
Wikipedia launched with a commitment to neutrality, Sanger said. That means the articles were supposed to be balanced.
Between 2005 and 2015, “the left executed its march through the modern institutions of the internet … and by 2015 Wikipedia articles were much much more biased than they had been in the first years of the project,” he explained. “But I don’t think it’s just a matter of the left, it’s the establishment.”
The reason why it would be wrong to see this simply as a problem with people on the left of politics influencing Wikipedia is because there are elements of the left that are just as upset with Wikipedia.
One of the problems that Sanger is aware of is that Wikipedia has made it against the rules to use a lot of sources in their articles that run contrary to “the Establishment’s” point of view. Wikipedia has a system of colour-coding sources. If a source is coded red, then that source cannot be used in Wikipedia articles. The system has been automated so that if someone tries to link a Wikipedia article to one of the sources coded red, the edit won’t be saved.
“But we will not know precisely what has happened until some insiders, probably more than one, emerge that can provide some documentation about what’s been going on behind the scenes because I’m very sure there has been a lot,” Sanger said.
In 2005, the WikiScanner was introduced. It logged the IP addresses of Wikipedia editors. “It turns out that a lot of them came from Langley, Virginia – the home of the CIA,” Sanger said.
“I’m sure it’s not just the CIA because the information warfare now is conducted online. And a lot of it has to do now with, essentially, propaganda … Organised systematic attempts to change public opinion in the direction that well-funded or powerful people want it to be changed in. And of course, it’s not just spy agencies that want to do that,” he said. “There are also powerful corporations and, who knows, probably criminal organisations as well.”