Wikipedia co-founder, Lawrence Mark Sanger, has accused U.S. intelligence agencies of manipulating the online encyclopedia for nearly two decades.
In an interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, Sanger claimed that Wikipedia had become a tool of “control” in the hands of the U.S. establishment, which includes the CIA, FBI, and other intelligence agencies.
“We do have evidence that … even as early as … 2008 … that CIA and FBI computers were used to edit Wikipedia,” Sanger stated during the interview.
“Do you think that they stopped doing that back then?”
Sanger’s claims shed light on the alleged infiltration of Wikipedia by intelligence agencies and a perceived ideological shift on the platform. “Just how did we get to a point where ‘truth’ is tied to a particular ideology?” Sanger asked.
Sanger highlighted the “gradual change” he observed in Wikipedia’s content over the years, noting that by 2006 to 2008, articles related to controversial topics in science, such as global warming and certain drugs, began to exhibit what he described as an “over-the-top bias.”
“Then I started noticing around 2010 to 2015 that articles on like Eastern medicine and holistic medicine … were so obviously biased,” Sanger continued, suggesting a bias towards Western ideas. “It really got over the top … between 2013 and 2018,” he added.
By the time of the Trump administration, Wikipedia’s perceived bias had intensified, and Sanger claimed that “no encyclopedia to my knowledge has been as biased as Wikipedia has been.”
Greenwald agreed that the emergence of the Trump administration had a significant impact, stating that the “liberal establishment narrative” aimed at countering then President Donald Trump appeared to have influenced Wikipedia’s content.
Sanger also expressed concern about the abandonment of Wikipedia’s “original neutrality policy” by what he termed as “rank and file Wikipedians,” who he claimed now took cues from liberal media outlets like “CNN, MSNBC, and The New York Times.”
A notable revelation from Sanger was that Wikipedia had officially declared that “80 percent of the major sources of news on the right to be unreliable.”
— Larry Sanger (@lsanger) August 2, 2023
He believed that Wikipedia became a target for weaponization between 2005 and 2015, with “information warfare … conducted online.” He pointed out that websites like Wikipedia played a central role in this conflict.
Sanger recommended other online encyclopedias such as Ballotpedia and Conservapedia as potential alternatives to Wikipedia, even though he noticed that these do not rank well on Google.
Greenwald, who had previously supported the Obama administration, was no stranger to what he referred to as the “weaponization” of “new information tools.”
.@Wikipedia is a dominant force in the information ecosystem—largely due to how aggressively it’s pushed by Google’s search engine.
And controlled by a small number of contributors w/ an appalling pro-establishment bias, it has effectively been forged into a weapon of elites. pic.twitter.com/Q2hFFnDjYS
— System Update (@SystemUpdate_) August 1, 2023
He had been targeted with political attacks and weaponized propaganda due to his involvement in whistleblower Edward Snowden’s release of U.S. government secrets.
Sanger’s revelations aligned with findings from a programming student named Virgil Griffith, who first published evidence of CIA and FBI activity on Wikipedia in 2007.
The CIA and FBI were found to have edited numerous articles, removing incriminating information, Huffington Post reported in 2008.
For instance, the CIA used its computers to remove casualty counts from the Iraq War, while the FBI removed images of Guantanamo Bay and edited articles on various subjects.
Sanger concluded that intelligence agencies either paid influential individuals to advance their agendas or developed their own personnel within the intelligence community to manipulate Wikipedia content to their advantage.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.