A co-founder of Wikipedia has issued a warning to the public that the site he helped to create has been hijacked by the U.S. government and used as a tool for “info warfare.”
For much of the unsuspecting public, Wikipedia is often viewed as an authoritative source of information on the Internet.
Mainstream search engines such as Google typically promote Wikipedia pages to the top of the results.
However, the pages on Wikipedia are user-generated and often edited by activists who seek to smear those with opposing views or promote certain political narratives.
Wikipedia co-founder Lawrence Mark Sanger is now accusing U.S. intelligence agencies of manipulating the online encyclopedia.
Sanger claims that the CIA and FBI have been manipulating the site for the past 15 years.
He made the allegations during an interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald.
Sanger asserts that Wikipedia has become a tool of “control” in the hands of the U.S. establishment.
He claims that the site is now heavily controlled by 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 told Greenwald.
“Do you think that they stopped doing that back then?”
Sanger’s claims shed light on the alleged infiltration of Wikipedia by intelligence agencies.
In recent years, there has been a perceived ideological shift toward left-wing politics 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.
He notes that from 2006 to 2008, articles related to controversial topics in science started to express left-wing biases.
Sanger explains that supposedly scientific pages related to topics such as “global warming” and certain drugs, shifted from science to leftist propaganda.
He said they 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.
“It really got over the top … between 2013 and 2018,” he added.
Greenwald agreed that President Donald Trump’s rise in American politics had a significant impact.
They note that the “liberal establishment narrative” aimed at countering President Donald Trump appeared to have influenced Wikipedia’s content.
Sanger also expressed concern about the abandonment of Wikipedia’s “original neutrality policy.”
He warns that “rank and file Wikipedians” – those responsible for the bulk of editing on the site – now take cues from liberal corporate media outlets like “CNN, MSNBC, and The New York Times.”
A notable revelation from Sanger was that Wikipedia officially declared that “80 percent of the major sources of news on the right to be unreliable.”
By the time of the Trump administration, Wikipedia’s bias had massively intensified, Sanger notes.
Sanger claimed that “no encyclopedia to my knowledge has been as biased as Wikipedia has been.”
— Larry Sanger (@lsanger) August 2, 2023
He believed that Wikipedia became a target for weaponization between 2005 and 2015, with “information warfare … conducted online.”
Sanger asserts that websites like Wikipedia play a central role in this conflict.
Instead of using Wikipedia, Sanger recommends other online encyclopedias such as Ballotpedia and Conservapedia as potential alternatives.
However, Sanger notes that these more trustworthy Wikipedia alternatives are buried in the search results by Google.
Greenwald, a longtime Democrat who previously supported the Obama administration, revealed that he’s no stranger to the “weaponization” of “new information tools.”
The journalist describes the hijacking of Wikipedia as “the most valuable propaganda arm of any other weapon.”
.@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
Greenwald said 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 program could trace the location of computers used to edit Wikipedia articles.
The Huffington Post reported in 2008 that the CIA and FBI were found to have edited numerous articles, removing incriminating information.
The CIA, for example, used its computers to remove casualty counts from the Iraq War.
The FBI, meanwhile, 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.