Wikipedia bans conservative outlets, serves as info-anchor for social media giants

by WorldTribune Staff, May 29, 2020

Google, Twitter and Facebook (and in turn, Instagram) continue to rely on Wikipedia for information in their services. But Wikipedia is not a reliable source. That doesn’t need to be fact-checked. It’s well established.

The so-called “online encyclopedia” is also decidedly anti-conservative.

The Epoch Times and The Gateway Pundit have been banned from use as “reliable sources” by Wikipedia. Breitbart News was blacklisted as a “reliable source” on Wikipedia in 2018. UK-based The Daily Mail has also been banned by Wikipedia. The popular conservative news site The Daily Caller in February 2019 was declared a “deprecated source” on Wikipedia, which means citing it is generally prohibited.

“Wikipedia continues to assault Gateway Pundit and other conservative voices,” Jim Hoft, founder of The Gateway Pundit, said in a May 28 report.

“Not only do the anonymous editors at Wikipedia ruin prominent conservatives but these same leftist hacks will not allow you to confront their far left editors or correct their lies,” Hoft wrote. “In America you have the right to face your accuser. Not on Wikipedia.”

Breitbart News noted:

Even as the criticism of Wikipedia’s left-wing political bias intensifies, including from the site’s co-founder Larry Sanger, the major tech platforms continue to use the online encyclopedia in their services and rely on it as a model for addressing “fake news” concerns. Rather than improving their services, the integration of Wikipedia into Big Tech platforms has, instead, made them disseminate false or biased information.

Big Tech has deepened its effort to integrate Wikipedia into its services at every opportunity. As the tech overlords of Silicon Valley such as Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey claim they are not the “arbiters of truth,” they are increasingly using Wikipedia to fill that role despite its extreme left-wing bias.

As the focus remains on the bias at the Silicon Valley Masters of the Universe themselves, and their ability to control and influence everyday political conversations, the role of Wikipedia in informing these conversations has largely been portrayed positively by left-wing media outlets.

Google “gives a significant advantage to Wikipedia and has even adjusted its algorithms to the detriment of Wikipedia alternatives,” Breitbart noted.

In its “Knowledge Panel” which accompanies most search results, Google utilizes Wikipedia. Used to display basic information on the subject of the search, it commonly pulls that information from the online encyclopedia.

This once caused Google to label the California Republican Party’s ideology as “Nazism” due to Wikipedia vandalism. It also propagates political bias such as branding conservative outlet Gateway Pundit a “fake news site” for months until the label was removed from the outlet’s Wikipedia intro. More recent editing now places a similar claim in the Knowledge Panel.

Google also uses Wikipedia in its Home virtual assistants. When people ask questions of Home devices, the artificial intelligence service often relays an answer taken from Wikipedia.

The potential vulnerabilities of this system were evident after Burger King created an ad where the person in the ad asks “Google” about the company’s Whopper burger. Vandals subsequently altered the entry on the burger, causing it to claim the chain’s iconic product contained “medium-sized child” and other disgusting or even lethal ingredients.

In December 2019, T. D. Adler at Breitbart News noted:

China critics the Epoch Times and conservative outlet the Gateway Pundit have been banned from use as reliable sources on Wikipedia in the latest cases of news outlets that support President Trump being banned from the online encyclopedia. The Epoch Times ban proposal cited NBC’s hit piece on the site over its coverage of improprieties in the Russia investigation, commonly called Spygate, which prompted smear efforts against the outlet on Wikipedia. Gateway Pundit was proposed for a ban shortly after Epoch Times.

The Epoch Times Wikipedia ban proposal was apparently prompted by one of its articles being cited on the Wikipedia page for Joseph Mifsud, a key controversial figure in the origins of the discredited Russia investigation. Gateway Pundit’s ban was in response to the outlet being cited for past media silence over Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.

Over the past year, Wikipedia editors have been on a banning spree targeting conservative news sources. Having previously banned the Daily Mail as a source, the following year marked the beginning of an acceleration of the process. Since then, editors have imposed similar bans on fifteen other sites aside from Epoch Times and Gateway Pundit. While some data-focused sites and state-owned outlets in Venezuela and Iran have also been banned, the bulk of the sites banned have been conservative-leaning news outlets. …

…Gateway Pundit’s ban came from a proposal soon after the proposed ban for Epoch Times. The ban proposal came in response to editor “BullRangifer” removing a 2017 piece criticizing media silence on Ukraine colluding with Democrats to influence the 2016 election. The article was originally added to frame Gateway Pundit as “fueling conspiracy theories” related to the impeachment inquiry over Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In fact, the piece correctly noted Politico’s coverage of DNC contractor Alexandra Chalupa soliciting Ukrainian interference and then-Democratic minority leader of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff expressing concerns about the reported interference.

Criticism of Gateway Pundit was harsher during the ban discussion, though still predominantly from left-wing editors. Some regarded the outlet as unreliable, but argued against a full sourcing ban as they believed some legitimate uses may exist. In addition to Simonm223, who also voted for the ban, editors advocating a ban included “Snooganssnoogans” and “Volunteer Marek” who each have a history of smearing the outlet on Wikipedia.

Editor “Snoogansnoogans” previously added a description to Gateway Pundit’s Wikipedia article stating the site “is known for publishing falsehoods and spreading hoaxes.” Marek a year later labeled the outlet a “fake news website” and each description persists to this day in some way despite initially not being based on any sources considered “reliable” on Wikipedia. However, those labels and descriptions subsequently made their way to major media outlets. Those outlets were later cited to back up the material on Wikipedia, in an apparent “citogenesis” case, referring to a form of circular sourcing.

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