Investigative Reporter Implicates Wikipedia In Smear Campaign

 

Investigative reporter, author and former Navy intelligence officer Wayne Madsen has reported a major new development in the long-running smear campaign that Wikipedia has undertaken against him. 

Wikipedia this week rejected a corrected biographical entry for Madsen submitted by a longtime Wikipedia volunteer editor and professional journalist.

Instead, Wikipedia reinstalled the smear-biography designed primarily by anonymous editors using a false birthday and, more important, designed to portray Madsen falsely as a fringe figure who is exceptionally untrustworthy as a news source.

However, the biography omits major parts of his work and other credentials. Wikipedia has refused to publish the parts of Madsen's work that the anonymous editors want to suppress. The rejected additions accurately report that scores of traditional, print newspapers around the United States have published Madsen's opeds well over 100 times in recent years. Also, he has been an invited national security and political expert on almost all major United States network and cable news channels, including ABC, CBS, Fox News, and NBC.

Wikipedia this week refused to include that kind of career data in Madsen's bio even though the information, routinely included in bios of other journalists, was documented in the standard Wikipedia submission format by a longtime Wikipedia editor outraged over the organization's treatment of Madsen. This includes hot links to the specific network programs, newspaper columns, and other sources.

Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Sue Gardner passed the request for comment to a communications aide, Jay Walsh. Gardner has previously said that Wikipedia opposes deceptive entries by opinion advocates and paid "sockpuppets." Walsh defended all of Wikipedia's actions, including its practice of relying on volunteer editors who are under voluntary requests to disclose any conflicts of interest.

That answer (amplified below) begs the question of what happens if several editors have a financial or fanatical antipathy to a fairly obscure biography subject, and are able to work with like-minded bloggers and other journalists to create a propaganda-like biography. Anyone involved in such a plan would have no incentive to step forward with a confession. The CIA and other intelligence agencies, for example, forbid their covert assets by the terms of their non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) from revealing their work to the public.

For nearly a decade, Wikipedia's vulnerability if not complicity to such tactics has been well-documented. One such article was in Wired in 2007 by John Borland, See Who's Editing Wikipedia -- Diebold, the CIA, a Campaign,. Another was Censorship at Wikipedia by Peter Meyer in 2006 at Serendipity.com.

In the recent case of the ongoing smear on Madsen, Wikipedia relies heavily on an anonymous editor, “Capitalismojo,” who created Madsen's bio in 2009, according to operational timelines available online. The editor has tweaked the bio with hundreds of disparaging edits so far in tandem with another anonymous smear-artist, who is identified only as "brewcrewer (yada, yada)." The latter name that underscores the cocky, sophomoric attitude of the editors who wield their poison pens with the protection of anonymity.

Capitalismojo has even published a comment questioning whether Madsen ever served in the U.S. Navy.

By contrast, a Navy colleague who served with Madsen and later became a Navy captain has told me that Madsen was an outstanding Navy officer, patriot, and investigative reporter.

More generally, the Wikipedia defamation campaign against Madsen shows a fundamental weakness in Wikipedia's operations. The flaw has victimized many other news subjects and readers. A class on Wikipedia at the National Press Club last summer described major problems because of this flaw: the Wikipedia system relyies on anonymous volunteer editors for most content, creating a problem especially for especially in bios and political topics of controversial figures. 

I use Wikipedia almost every day because of its useful features. But I published also a three-part series last summer on the problem excerpted below. The most relevant segment was For Trustworthy Commentary, Beware of Wikipedia, Daily Beast, CNN, Poynter -- and Many More.

Wikipedia's treatment of Madsen, a former NSA analyst, parallels its cavalier treatment nine years ago of First Amendment advocate and USA Today editorial page editor John Seigenthaler, shown giving a speech in a file photo.

Wikipedia falsely described Seigenthaler in 2005 as a onetime suspect in the 1960s assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy. Seigenthaler responded by writing an eloquent op-ed in USA Today explaining why Wikipedia does not stop character assassins from posting false information.

My series last summer also documented the long history of secret cooperation between U.S. intelligence agencies and the traditional news media to use propaganda techniques on the nation's domestic population in violation of the agencies' restriction -- in theory -- to foreign operations. The column, The Intelligence Community and the DC Media: A Brief Introduction, showed that the Washington Post, the longtime owner of Newsweek until recent years, has been especially involved in high-level cooperation with the CIA. During the 1950s and early 1960s, for example, Washington Post Publisher Philip Graham helped lead the CIA's Operation Mockingbird propaganda program. At its peak, the program involved nearly all of the leading news organizations.

Madsen, a former analyst at the National Security Agency during his Navy career and non-resident attendee of the Naval War College in Newport, RI, alleges that his cutting-edge investigative stories are at the root of the smears and that the federal government clearly helped generate some of the smears.

More specifically, Madsen has written that the War College has become a hotbed of propaganda efforts. He has written that its professors have sought to smear critics of warrantless domestic surveillance, including journalists Madsen and Glenn Greenwald, former NSA employees as Edward Snowden and Thomas Drake, and such political office holders as President Obama and Congressman Justin Amash, a Republican from the Grand Rapids region of Michigan, who has opposed warrantless surveillance.

By means of hundreds of edits to Madsen's profile on Wikipedia, its editors have installed and retained the term "conspiracy theorist" at the top of his bio and spiked descriptions of the wide extent of his published works.

The State Department and CIA fostered use of the term "conspiracy theorist" as part of their secret campaign to impugn critics of the Warren Commission, according to now-declassified memos. To discourage the public from considering evidence of CIA involvement in President Kennedy's assassination, for example, the CIA in 1967 distributed "Dispatch 1035-960" instructing agents to persuade their media contacts to smear any critics of the Warren Commission. The document is here in the original, and here in reformatted text of its summary.

Since then, intelligence agencies and aspiring newsmakers have widely used the term as a code phase to indicate which colleagues should be avoided or accepted. Former Obama White House aide Cass Sunstein even wrote a working paper in 2008, "Conspiracy Theories." Sunstein, husband of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, urged in his paper that the CIA secretly hire journalists and academics as confidential operatives to disrupt discussions of what the government determines to be bad ideas.   

Greenwald last June took a lead role in breaking Snowden's revelations of massive surveillance by the NSA of the domestic population. Greenwald, writing for the new investigative website FirstLook Intercept, this week broke a major story, Intelligence Agencies Use Social Media for 'Dirty Tricks,' Propaganda: New Report, about how Western intelligence agencies have been using social media sites for surveillance and sockpuppet disruption of Americans' communications. Madsen broke similar stories years ago on his subscription news service, the Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), as have others, including me.

Add Wikipedia to NSA's cyber-warfare weapons inventory was Madsen's WMR column on the topic this week. Both Madsen and another former officer, who remains anonymous under the pen name Open Hatch, have reported reaching a dead-end in Freedom of Information Act litigation in trying to determine why Navy War College professors can undertake propaganda campaigns without violating the federal Hatch Act forbidding partisan political activity by federal employees.

Walter "Ted" Carter Naval War CollegeThe traditional media, by contrast, is so unconcerned about the issue that the nation's leading association of editorial page writers, the Association of Opinion Journalists, held its most recent annual convention in Newport in cooperation with the War College, and awarded its highest honor to the War College's Commander, Rear Admiral Walter "Ted" Carter, shown in his official photo.

Anatomy of a Smear

Last summer, I reported how a coordinated campaign against Madsen arose with remarkable speed and scope after the Observer in London requested documents from him and used them as the basis of a front-page story quoting Madsen as interpreting the NSA documents as the newspaper's request. The Observer is owned by the same company that owned the Guardian, which help break the Snowden revelations in what became a Polk award-winning series.

Immediately upon publication a trans-Atlantic coalition among conservative journalists swung into action complaining about the story. The Observer pulled it without explanation among many demonstrably false allegations about the circumstances of the reporting, most notably by the financially troubled Daily Beast / Newsweek. Madsen later published a column citing an anonymous intelligence source as stating that the Observer/Guardian was under severe pressure from the British intelligence service MI6, primarily because of the Guardian stories earlier in the month. The United Kingdom has an Official Secrets Act, and no First Amendment protection.

The unrebutted evidence at this point is that the main perpetrators at multiple publications have been unwilling to publish corrections or or respond to complaints that their major allegations against Madsen were false.

The platforms they used included the July 7 edition of CNN's "Reliable Sources" show, which convened three employees of the Daily Beast / Newsweek to denounce Madsen in a segment Reporters Under Fire. The show permitted no rebuttal or view different from that of the jointly owned Daily Beast / Newsweek even though central "facts" presented appear to have been concocted. Among the journalists who promptly moved into action to smear were the following:

None responded to my request for comment aside from Gillin's editor, who said he was merely an "aggregator" not responsible for the content that he and Poynter published. The remark struck me as an astonishing denial of responsibility for the Poynter Institute, which ordinarily polishes its image by publishing a widely republished annual survey of the worst mistakes made by journalists elsewhere.
 
More remarkably, Wikipedia's editors cited the smears above as authoritative, and ignored Madsen's substantial career highlights, which include a vice presidency at a major defense contractor and publication of eight books, including a pioneering, thousand-page book published by McMillan surveying the electronic privacy laws of more than 80 nations.
 
Wikipedia's Other Problems and Response
 
Wikipedia, founded in 2002, is an affiliate of the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, whose United States headquarters is in San Francisco. Jimmy Wales is listed as the founder and CEO. Another man was originally announced as a co-founder but he resigned after several years for issues that include the problems arising from anonymous, volunteer editors whose motives are difficult to monitor.
 
Gardner, the Wikimedia executive director, last fall published a statement disapproving of "paid advocacy editing and sockpuppetry." Her statement was vague, however, in describing how the organization would know hidden motives of its editors.
 
Furthermore, the intelligence agencies have a long history of using assets to blend into journalism organizations in ways whereby they can work undetected by the vast majority of their colleagues. Former Obama White House advisor Cass Sunstein in 2008 even published a working paper, "Conspiracy Theories," in which Sunstein advocated that the government secretly pay journalists and academics to dispute wrongheaded ideas and disrupt the circles where such ideas flourish.
 
Thus the vast majority of employees in a communications company would never suspect that a colleague might be a mole or other asset for an intelligence agency or contractor. Readers would have an even more difficlt time distinguishing between honest mistakes and opinion differences vs. intentional disinformation or bias.
 
With the dangers so great, what are the remedies?
 
Some companies offer an expert service. One is Denver-based Internet Reputation.com. "While Wikipedia is ordinarily a great resource for digging up information, it can turn on you in a second," it argues. "Unfortunately, the good aspects of Wikipedia can be overshadowed by libel or unwanted information. The benefits of a public database of knowledge quickly erode when your information is falsely presented. Don’t let Wikipedia get the best of your reputation; let us step in and handle it for you."
 
Others have filed defamation lawsuits against Wikipedia of various kinds. Billionaire hedge fund manager Louis Bacon, for example filed a suit against Wikipedia in 2011 seeking the names of commenters.
 
In an interview Feb. 28, Madsen said he is eager to sue Wikipedia and Wales if they fail to publish a fair bio that removes libelous comments and redresses past damage by at least including his newsworthy writing credits in a manner similar to other biographical subjects.
 
He said he recognizes his columns, books and speeches are controversial and so does not mind if the bio mentions the issues, including criticisms of his approaches and outlets. Madsen has written for outlets based in Russia, Chiina and Iran, among other places, and has questioned official versions of investigations of the JFK assassination and 9/11, among other disasters.
 
But he said the public would be far better served with no Wikipedia biography of him than have to constantly monitor whether anonymous fanatics or intelligence assets are constantly inserting smears via Wikipedia's lax procedures.
 
I can concur. A look at procedures by Wikipedia and other relevant outlets indicates huge problems. For one thing, even supposedly respectable outlets that its editors draw upon will not respond in a professional manner to allegations of factual mistakes and blatant propaganda.
 
 
   
 
Contact the author Andrew Kreig
 
 

Wikipedia Response to Justice Integrity Project

The Justice Integrity Project received the following comment Feb. 28, 2014 from Jay Walsh, speaking from Wikimedia's communications office:

The Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit that operates Wikipedia, does not get involved in editorial issues with the articles within Wikipedia. No one at the Foundation edits the project as part of their work. We always direct individuals who have issues with their articles to work with the community of Wikipedians to resolve issues, and in some cases the Foundation passes information or requests from readers on to editors directly.

In this case it appears that the article in question, and the related edits, have received scrutiny and review to ensure that the content it reflects is properly cited. I have not read through all of the article's discussion/talk pages, but in general it appears this article is being edited, reviewed, and discussed much like any other Biography of a Living Person (BLP) would on English Wikipedia. It could be quite different within a few hours, which is also the basic nature of Wikipedia.

Those who have edited the article are able to disclose personal details if they choose, and the Foundation has been clear about the importance of disclosure of any conflict of interest when editing Wikipedia. As you point out, Sue Gardner has expressed the Foundation's position on this before, and we expect anyone editing on the projects to honor the policies of the project as well as the Foundation's terms of use (which clearly do not permit false representation while editing the project). Wikipedians take these matters very seriously, and I'm sure that they would review the contributions of those working on this (or any article) with an eye towards minimizing the influence of anyone with a conflict of interest.

I can also point out that BLPs that experience continuous editorial issues (due to disagreements, vandalism, or edit-warring) may sometimes be reverted to much simpler states, effectively allowing the article to start over from scratch. This isn't an uncommon outcome, although obviously not desirable from a Wikipedian's perspective.

There are tens of thousands of biographies of living people on Wikipedia in English alone, and editors tend to spend more time and energy on these kinds of articles to ensure they contain quality citations and sources.

Thanks for you inquiry.

-- Jay Walsh (for communications at the Wikimedia Foundation)

The Justice Integrity Project followed up on the afternoon of Feb. 28 with these more specific questions, with no reply so far: 

•    The [Wikipedia] editors have made hundreds of edits in a relatively short bio, and obviously have a bizarre personal interest if not fetish or paid assignment regarding this particular bio.
•    They have relied on a small group of attackers in the media – generated from the Daily Beast and a few others -- for their citations, not the larger pool of relevant editors and commenters.
•    Their disclosure under your guidelines appear to be purely voluntary. If someone were getting paid, etc., why would they admit it at this late date?
•    A major national issue is arising from reporting for years by those such as Madsen, Greenwald and others documenting how intelligence agencies use social media sites for disinformation. We know to a certainty that such operatives exist. Why would they admit their role? Their employers require secrecy.

 

Justice Integrity Project Three-Part Series in 2013

Justice Integrity Project, For Trustworthy Commentary, Beware of Wikipedia, Daily Beast, CNN, Poynter -- and Many More, (Part I) Andrew Kreig, July 22, 2013. Media manipulators this month used Wikipedia and CNN to smear investigative journalist Wayne Madsen, a former Navy intelligence officer who often breaks important and/or controversial stories. One example was his exclusive July 22 revealing National Security Agency (NSA) plans to bypass legal restrictions forbidding domestic surveillance. Wikipedia's treatment of Madsen, a former NSA analyst, parallels its treatment eight years ago of First Amendment advocate John Seigenthaler, who suffered from an even worse Wikipedia bio than Madsen. An unidentified person created a false bio of Seigenthaler that described him as a onetime suspect in the assassinations of the Kennedy Brothers. (Part two of a three-part series.)

Justice Integrity Project, The Intelligence Community and the DC Media: A Brief Introduction, Andrew Kreig, July 16, 2013. (Part II of a three-part series.) Reporters face a daunting challenge if they seek to cover the CIA, NSA, and the nation's dozens of other intelligence bodies.  Everyone knows the history of the Washington Post's Watergate reporting. Here is another side to government news coverage during that era. The snapshots below illustrate the tight and largely hidden ties between the Post, news outlets like it, and the powerful United States intelligence community. (Part two of a three-part series.)

Justice Integrity Project, DOJ Curtails Spy Charges Against Reporters; But Do Smears Continue? Andrew Kreig, July 16, 2013. (Part III of a three-part series.)The Obama Justice Department has announced that it will not assert spy charges against reporters during leak investigations except in special circumstances. The statement by Attorney Gen. Eric Holder July 12 reduces the tension between prosecutors and the mainstream media. Meanwhile, a smear campaign against freelance investigative reporter Wayne Madsen raises new questions about the longstanding practice of intelligence agencies in the United States and United Kingdom, as elsewhere, of trying to shape public opinion via news organizations, quasi-academic non-profits, and other outlets that influence civic perceptions. (Part one of a three-part series.)

 

Related News Coverage

Updates:

Vice (Motherboard), Wikipedia Editor Says Site’s Toxic Community Has Him Contemplating Suicide, Jason Koebler, May 17, 2016. A longtime Wikipedia editor wrote an email to a large public mailing list Tuesday, saying he was contemplating suicide due to online abuse by his fellow Wikipedians. "Nobody on Wikipedia seems to be kind," he wrote. "You are all so busy power tripping that you forget there is a real, live person on the other side." He lamented that obstructionism by other editors stopped him from contributing to the site's "great mission -- one I feel so keenly."

The email was sent to the Wikimedia-L mailing list, which is one of the largest community-run Wikimedia mailing lists and has hundreds of subscribers. The editor was upset after an ongoing disagreement with other editors on the "talk" pages of an article about a local politician. The debate devolved into name-calling, the editor wrote, and eventually he was completely banned from editing the site he had devoted so much time to.

WhoWhatWhy, Disinformation Part 1: How Trolls Control an Internet Forum, Milicent Cranor, Jan. 27, 2016. This is the first of a three-part series on feds, saboteurs, provocateurs, and disinformants. As you read about these dirty tricks, you may have a sense of deja-vu: Cointelpro Techniques for Control of an Internet Forum. This is from an over-the-transom copy of a purported official document. There are several techniques for the control and manipulation of an internet forum. Most involve dilution and misdirection. We will go over each technique and demonstrate that even a minimal number of operatives can eventually gain control of an “uncontrolled forum.”

“Forum Sliding.” If a very sensitive posting of a critical nature has been posted on a forum, it can be quickly removed from public view by “forum sliding.” This maneuver brings unrelated postings to the top of the forum, and the critical posting “slides” down the front page — out of public view.

A second highly effective technique is what we call “consensus cracking.” Here’s how we develop a consensus crack: Under the guise of a fake account, a posting is made which looks legitimate — but the critical point is that it has very weak back-up. [Ed.: We assume this counterfeit posting contains some of the same points being made by those attempting to reveal the truth, but in a weaker form. Think of it as an “inoculation.”

Wikipediocracy, Wikimedia 2014, Andreas Kolbe, Aug. 11, 2014. The Wikimedia movement’s 10th Wikimania conference at the London Barbican (6–10 August 2014) concluded on Sunday. Two years ago, when discussing the London bid for the event, Jimmy Wales had confidently stated, "I spend a lot of time in London, and believe I can help significantly with ensuring a well-funded conference at a great venue, with VIP speakers (academics, politicians, media, entertainment)." Unfortunately for Jimbo, those extensive and good relationships weren’t quite enough to overcome the healthy skepticism of the UK press towards his almost blatant contempt for the EU’s recent “Right to be Forgotten” ruling. Wales appears to have completely missed the whole point of the last three years for the “UK press,” in which some of their most prominent members were involved in a phone-hacking scandal that ultimately sent one of them to jail for 18 months, among other not-so-nice things. Earth To Jimbo: The UK press is all about privacy now – your timing could, well, maybe use some work.'

Washington Post, Will apps that don’t burn through your data plan destroy the Internet or save it? Nancy Scola, Aug. 15, 2014. When you're on a data-limited cellphone plan, keeping tabs on how much data you're burning through can be time-consuming. Watching online videos or hopping between Web sites can quickly spend your monthly data allowance.  Under a free feature on some plans, T-Mobile users can now stream music services like Pandora, iTunes Radio, Rhapsody, and Spotify all day long without having to worry about sapping their data caches. T-Mobile calls it "Music Freedom," and it's part of a quiet but powerful global trend.

  • Apps and Web sites that don't count against the users' data plan are popping up both in the United States and abroad, often under names like Wikipedia Zero or Facebook Zero. What's the worry? A chief one is that by making some apps exempt from data caps, users will be discouraged from trying out other data-consuming alternatives. And that, in turn, will upset the Internet's competitive free-for-all. Battle line are now being drawn. The Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that hosts the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia, caused a stir at the beginning of August when an official there said that its Wikipedia Zero service, now available in 29 countries but not in the United States, can peacefully co-exist with the spirit of net neutrality, mostly because no money changes hands. “It is absolutely in the interest of the public,” wrote Erik Möller, deputy director for the non-profit that runs the online encyclopedia, “to use the Internet to provide free access to education, knowledge, medical information, or other public services.”
  • Raegan MacDonald, European policy manager for the digital rights group Access, shot back that she was “shocked” by that position. Wikipedia Zero is, she blogged, “is an attack on the future of the open internet.” And Fred Wilson, a high-profile venture capitalist based in New York who works with many Internet-based companies, warned his blog earlier this summer, “What all of this zero rating activity is setting up is a mobile Internet that looks a lot more like cable TV than our wide open Internet. Soon a startup will have to negotiate a zero rating plan before launching because mobile app customers will be trained to only use apps that are zero rated on their network.”

Channel 4 News London, Exclusive: Wikipedia edits from government computers, Fatima Manji, Aug. 6, 2014. 3:21 min. Channel 4 News reveals controversial edits to the Wikipedia pages for Jean Charles de Menezes, Lee Rigby and Damilola Taylor have been made from government computers.

Jerusalem Post, Education Ministry and Wikipedia collaborate to write content for the internet site, Lidar Grave-Lazi, June 10, 2014. Wikimedia Foundation chair hopes joint venture with Israel will serve as example for other education systems around the world. The Education Ministry and Wikipedia are joining forces to enable Israeli pupils to fill in missing information on the online encyclopedia’s site, it was announced Tuesday. Education Minister Shai Piron and Jan-Bart de Vreede, chairman of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, have agreed on a collaborative program to train history, geography and science teachers to guide their students in editing and adding to Wikipedia articles. “It is important for us that the education system in Israel will lead the innovation and collaboration with Wikipedia and provide a wonderful opportunity to think outside the box and allow students in Israel to do things which will also influence others,” Piron said. This agreement marks the first systematic collaboration between an education system and the Wikimedia movement.

Redress Information and Analysis, Israeli propagandists taking over Wikipedia? Editor, June 11, 2014. The Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects, has signed an agreement that will allow Israeli propagandists to promote Israel and its policies through the pages of Wikipedia, the world’s largest and most popular free encyclopedia. The article reminded us that Israelis are already making extensive use of Wikipedia to promote their views.In the framework of cooperation that is already in place between Wikimedia Israel and the Ministry of Education, several pilot projects are being conducted. The projects involve teacher training in good Wikipedia usage, article composition, Wikipedia article writing by gifted high school students and the teaching of proper Wikipedia usage to elementary schoolchildren. It is worth mentioning that through cooperation with academics in a variety of universities and colleges throughout Israel, hundreds of articles are written each year by students in courses. Thus students write Wikipedia articles as part of their degrees, sometimes even in lieu of exams or final papers. Last August we reported that Israel was in the process of hiring university students to post pro-Israel messages on social media networks – without needing to identify themselves as government-linked. We cited an Associated Press news agency report, which quoted an Israeli official as saying that a budget of 778,000 US dollars had been earmarked for the propaganda project, and that the national Israeli student association would select participants from a pool of applicants. Justice Integrity Project Editor's Note: This column includes offensive language deleted from this news excerpt.

Yahoo Small Business Community, Wikipedia’s Ruling Class Deciding How You See History, Mike Wood, June 20, 2014. There is nothing that I love more than a good content dispute on Wikipedia. The battle of wits, or should I say nitwits, going back and forth with each trying to stake their claim on content that should be introduced (or removed) into an article. While some of the disputes result in compromise and lead to an unbiased depiction of content related to the subject, most disputes continue for months and years and often wide up being judged by someone who has the most experienced Wikipedia account. Although Wikipedia is supposed to be governed by consensus, this rule is often disregarded by administrators and editors who simply want to make their point. As with war, the victor gets to write the pages of history. The same holds true on Wikipedia. Unfortunately, the “victor” tends to be the person who is the most respected (or feared) admin or editor on the website, regardless of the guiding policy. It is the view that they agree with what content goes into the article and that others will kindly follow their lead, even when they make a wrong decision or openly violate Wikipedia guidelines. This leads to pages that are linked to dispute tags being placed within the header to allow everyone to know that editors on Wikipedia are bickering and fighting over the correct wording to use for an article. Content is often left in dispute as very few people are willing to stand up and try to fight against experienced editors and admins because it only leads to rebuke of the editor for trying, and a potential ban from the site for edit warring.

Washington Post, Men’s rights activists think a “hateful” feminist conspiracy is ruining Wikipedia, Caitlin Dewey, Aug. 4, 2014. A Voice for Men, the controversial men’s rights Web site, sees feminist conspiracies in many unassuming places: college stadiums, women’s shelters, hospital delivery rooms. But on Saturday, AVfM managing editor Dean Esmay published an essay decrying “censorship” and “misandry” on a new platform: Wikipedia, that sum of all human knowledge, where Esmay says editors “infected” by a “hateful Gender Feminist dogma” have conspired to silence him and other members of his movement.

WebProNews, Will Policy Changes Make Wikipedia More Trustworthy? Chris Crum, June 16, 2014. The Wikimedia Foundation announced changes to its terms of service to address the problem of black hat paid editing of content such as Wikipedia articles. With half a billion people using Wikipedia every month, and the major search engines drawing from its information for quick answers to users’ queries, it’s pretty important that the content remains unbiased and factual, and not tainted by the influence of money in an undisclosed manner. “This new change will empower Wikipedia’s editor community to address the issue of paid editing in an informed way by helping identify edits that should receive additional scrutiny,” a spokesperson for the foundation tells WebProNews. “In addition, the change will help educate good-faith editors as to how they can continue editing in the spirit of the Foundation’s mission and provide additional tools in enforcing existing rules about conflicts of interest and paid editing.” Those who are being paid to edit will need to disclose the paid editing to comply with the new ToS, and add their affiliation to their edit summary, user page, or talk page, and “fairly disclose” their perspective. There’s an FAQ about this here. Those who edit Wikipedia as volunteers and “for fun” don’t have to worry about anything changing with the new terms. Those employed by galleries, libraries, museums, etc. that pay employees to make “good faith” contributions are considered “welcome to edit” as long as the contributions aren’t about the actual institutions themselves.

Wayne Madsen Report, WMR editor intends to sue Wikipedia over defamation in anonymously-written article, Wayne Madsen, March 1, 2014. After Wikipedia, the on-line so-called "encyclopedia," failed to correct false, misleading, and defamatory information contained in its article titled "Wayne Madsen," the editor is staking out a plan to sue the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. in San Francisco, the non-profit parent corporation for Wikipedia, for a sizable judgment for the immense financial and professional harm their libel has caused after hundreds of anonymous edits and re-edits were made to an unsolicited Wikipedia entry. Essentially, Wikipedia is a massive version of the wall in a public toilet, with one exception. The anonymous "cyber-graffiti" on Wikipedia cannot be erased or painted over. Comedian Stephen Colbert has said of Wikipedia: "if you make something up and enough people agree with you–it becomes reality." Colbert termed the phenomenon "Wikiality."

Alleged Wikipedia "founder" Jimmy Wales [he, in fact, has lied about this claim; Wikipedia was co-founded by Larry Sanger], a follower of Ayn Rand libertarianism, accepts no responsibility for the harm Wikipedia has caused to many individuals. The list of Wikipedia's libel victims in a long one and includes former President Jimmy Carter [attacked by a Wikipedia editor in Israel who only temporarily remained anonymous), former Nashville Tennessean editor and publisher John Seigenthaler (attacked by another temporarily-anonymous Wikipedia editor in Nashville), former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, former Georgia Democratic Lieutenant Governor Mark Taylor, Republican Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, former Rhode Island Democratic Representative Patrick Kennedy, golfer Fuzzy Zoeller, World News Daily chief editor Joseph Farah, computer privacy expert Daniel Brandt, Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, Canadian columnist Rachel Marsden (with whom Wales engaged in a brief affair as a quid pro quo for his help in clearing her Wikipedia entry of falsehoods), Microsoft founder Bill Gates, actress Jane Fonda, university official Nancy Zimpher, Moore Capital Management hedge fund manager Louis Bacon, literary agent Barbara Bauer, author Alice Walker of The Color Purple fame, British singer/actor Robbie Williams, the actor Sinbad, singer Miley Cyrus, Irish journalist Kevin Myers, Belgian soccer player Ritchie de Laet, British soccer player David Beckham, British television presenter Vernon Kay,  British writer Geoffrey Sampson, Israeli business journalist Shmuel (Sam) Vaknin, and actor Ron Livingston.

Wayne Madsen Report, The collaborative and correct biography that Wikipedia refuses to publish, Feb. 27, 2014. A collaborative effort by WMR members:Below is the true, accurate and verifiable biography of Wayne Madsen. It has been submitted and rejected by Wikipedia in favor of a false biography (everything including Wayne’s date of birth is wrong). Several bright WMR subscribers helped with assembling biographical data with Wayne's help and transcribing it into proper html format and we submitted it to Wikipedia. Wikipedia has received verifiable evidence of the correct version below from WMR and Wikipedia continues to stone-wall and willingly publish the false biography instead. This is the correct “forbidden” biography. The link is not behind the WMR firewall so that you may post it anywhere freely. Please help us expose this created problem. Wayne Madsen (born April 28, 1954) is an American journalist, television news commentator, online editor of Wayne Madsen Report.com, investigative journalist and author specializing intelligence and international affairs.

Wayne Madsen Report, Add Wikipedia to NSA's cyber-warfare weapons inventory, Wayne Madsen, Feb. 27, 2014. Wikipedia lauds itself in its own entry in the on-line encyclopedia as a "collaboratively edited, multilingual, free Internet encyclopedia that is supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Volunteers worldwide collaboratively write Wikipedia's 30 million articles in 287 languages, including over 4.4 million in the English Wikipedia. Anyone who can access the site can edit almost any of its articles, which on the Internet comprise the largest and most popular general reference work." However, Wikipedia is also a stated weapons platform for National Security Agency's and British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) offensive information warfare operations that target individuals and groups in cyber disinformation campaigns. This strategy is part of a program known as Computer Network Information Operations (CNIO). Wikipedia is jammed full of erroneous information, intelligence agency-generated and otherwise, which has burned more than one person who dared use it as a primary source. That includes journalists, including this one, who regretfully relied on a Wikipedia entry on the late banker Edmond Safra. Also burned by Wikipedia were NBC's Brian Williams and the managing editors of the Arizona Republic, Flint Journal, and Las Vegas Review-Journal. The latest Wikipedia outrage is a personal one. After a painstaking re-edit of the Wikipedia entry on Wayne Madsen, an effort that involved myself and three other people working for several hours on multiple days, two registered "anonymous" editors with the handles "Capitalismojo" and "W L Ross" restored the erroneous, libelous, and incorrect entry hours after changes were made to the first paragraph of the entry. Since the libelous attacks on this editor last July by the Daily Beast, CNN, the Poynter Institute, Business Insider.com, and The Daily Telegraph, "Capitalismojo" and "W L Ross" have made hundreds of erroneous and libelous alterations to this editor's Wikipedia entry even the date of birth. Although the editor was born on April 28, 1954, "Capitalismojo" and "W L Ross" changed it back to the erroneous date of April 25, 1954.

Wikimedia Foundation, Statement from Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, in response to paid advocacy editing and sockpuppetry, Oct. 23, 2013.  Executive Director Sue Gardner denounces paid editing for promotional purposes, or paid advocacy editing, which she calls extremely problematic. Gardner describes it as a "black hat" practice and notes that it violates the core principles that have made Wikipedia so valuable for so many people.

Justice Integrity Project, Intelligence Agencies Use Social Media for 'Dirty Tricks,' Propaganda: New Report, Andrew Kreig, March 1, 2014. Western intelligence agencies secretly use social media to inflict dirty tricks on enemies and to manipulate the public's political perceptions, according to a major investigative report last week by Glenn Greenwald. Based on documents provided last year by former NSA and CIA employee Edward Snowden, Greenwald published How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations in cooperation with NBC and via the First Look Intercept site. "I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents," Greenwald wrote Feb. 24. "Namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, nfiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself."

Natural News, Wikipedia increasingly being recognized as source of disinformation, propaganda, Ethan A. Huff, July 30, 2013. A lawsuit filed against the Encinitas Union School District (EUSD) near San Diego, California, was recently dismissed after a judge ruled that the plaintiffs in the case had used a phony source of information for their argument: Wikipedia. In what appears to be a growing trend, an increasing number of people are now realizing that just because Wikipedia is popular and mainstream does not necessarily mean that it is accurate or reliable, especially as the answer to the question of who actually controls Wikipedia is still up for debate.

According to the Los Angeles Times (LAT), Judge John Meyer of the San Diego County Superior Court decided that parents opposed to having their elementary-age children taught yoga at their local taxpayer-funded public school received their information about the practice from "inaccurate sources." Wikipedia, he indicated, is not a valid source of information as required in a case presented before a court of law.

Concerned parents apparently cited information from Wikipedia about the connection between Yoga and the Hindu religion, claiming that their children were being indoctrinated into a specific religious practice at a public school, which is not permitted. Even though many Yoga and Hindu websites openly admit that Yoga is an integral component of the Hindu religion, using Wikipedia as evidence of this is sketchy at best, at least in the eyes of Judge Meyer.

"It's almost like a trial by Wikipedia, which isn't what this court does," stated Judge Meyer, as quoted by LAT.

Judge Meyer's reasoning for this, at least in this particular case, stems from the fact that EUSD designed its yoga program to be more secular, removing all references to Hinduism and its liturgical language, Sanskrit. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune (SDUT), the program, which is funded by a $533,000 grant from the K.P. Jois Foundation, does not violate the U.S. Constitution.

Wikipedia, a completely unreliable source for finding the truth
But the case could really be about anything and still highlight a fundamental reality: Wikipedia is not the be-all, end-all source of fact and truth in the world. Regardless of its level of accuracy on the issue of yoga, the open-source website is still made up of user-composed information that is ultimately screened and censored by an army of unidentified "editors" who decide whether or not it is "accurate."

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), for example, was exposed by BBC News back in 2007 for tampering with content posted on the site. A tool known as "Wikipedia Scanner," which was hailed as being capable of identifying some of Wikipedia's user editors, revealed the CIA as an active manipulator of sensitive information. The U.S. military has also been caught editing tens of thousands of Wikipedia entries to suit its own interests.

"The sad truth about the Internet is that what started as a liberating multiplicity of informational sources has dwindled to a handful of knowledge-monopolies with Google and Wikipedia leading the pack," writes Micah White for Adbusters.org in an unrelated piece. "Wikipedia is a particularly unreliable source of knowledge and yet, because of a rumored secret-deal with Google, it ranks highly on many searches."

Though much less frequently used these days by younger generations, public libraries are still an excellent source of hard-copy information that has not been tampered with by the federal government or other rogue conglomerations of power -- that is, unless physical pages in books have been removed or modified. There are also still many reliable sources of information online, but it is critical to use common sense intuition and fact check when evaluating any information gathered from the internet.

USA Today, A false Wikipedia 'biography,' John Seigenthaler, Nov. 29, 2005. John Seigenthaler, a retired journalist, founded The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University. He also is a former editorial page editor at USA TODAY. This is a highly personal story about Internet character assassination. It could be your story. I have no idea whose sick mind conceived the false, malicious "biography" that appeared under my name for 132 days on Wikipedia, the popular, online, free encyclopedia whose authors are unknown and virtually untraceable.

Serendity, Censorship at Wikipedia, Peter Meyer, 2006 (Not specifically dated but after March 15 and before year-end). This page censored at Wikipedia As is by now well-known, Wikipedia presents itself as an online encyclopedia to which anyone can contribute, and whose entries anyone can edit. The idea is that people who are experts in their field will contribute articles, suitably augmented by others who are equally knowledgeable. This is a nice idea but in practice Wikipedia is unreliable, because anyone can edit articles, and in many cases the main aim of those editing articles is not to present the truth but rather a biassed interpretation. Wikipedia has no effective defense against this (especially since its privileged editors are among the worst offenders) and is thus unreliable. This flaw in Wikipedia manifests itself most often in articles dealing with history or contemporary events, in particular those relating to World War II and its aftermath, and to the events of September 11, 2001, and their consequences. There are people who are determined that certain facts should not receive publicity, and whenever an "unapproved" fact appears on Wikipedia some editor will come along and remove it. In fact there seem to be teams of such trolls, perhaps paid to do their work of censorship and their presentation of particular interpretations of history which their masters want to be the public "truth". Although this falsification occurs mainly in connection with historical articles, there is no guarantee that it does not occur in non-historical articles also, such as those dealing with medicine, psychiatry or pharmacy. Because of this lack of defense against censorship and misrepresentation by determined bands of trolls, Wikipedia is not to be trusted.

Wired, See Who's Editing Wikipedia -- Diebold, the CIA, a Campaign, John Borland, Aug. 14, 2007. CalTech graduate student Virgil Griffith built a search tool that traces IP addresses of those who make Wikipedia changes. On November 17th, 2005, an anonymous Wikipedia user deleted 15 paragraphs from an article on e-voting machine-vendor Diebold, excising an entire section critical of the company's machines. While anonymous, such changes typically leave behind digital fingerprints offering hints about the contributor, such as the location of the computer used to make the edits.  In this case, the changes came from an IP address reserved for the corporate offices of Diebold itself. And it is far from an isolated case. A new data-mining service launched Monday traces millions of Wikipedia entries to their corporate sources, and for the first time puts comprehensive data behind longstanding suspicions of manipulation, which until now have surfaced only piecemeal in investigations of specific allegations. Wikipedia Scanner -- the brainchild of Cal Tech computation and neural-systems graduate student Virgil Griffith -- offers users a searchable database that ties millions of anonymous Wikipedia edits to organizations where those edits apparently originated, by cross-referencing the edits with data on who owns the associated block of internet IP addresses. Inspired by news last year that Congress members' offices had been editing their own entries, Griffith says he got curious, and wanted to know whether big companies and other organizations were doing things in a similarly self-interested vein. "Everything's better if you do it on a huge scale, and automate it," he says with a grin. The online encyclopedia allows anyone to make edits, but keeps detailed logs of all these changes. Users who are logged in are tracked only by their user name, but anonymous changes leave a public record of their IP address.

Credential Watch, Two Libel Suits by Gary Null Fail , Stephen Barrett, M.D., Feb. 14, 2014. This article was posted on February 14, 2011. Two libel suits filed by Gary Null and Associates have failed to achieve their purposes and have been dismissed. One was a $100,000,000 suit against Wikipedia. The other was a $10,000,000 suit filed against Lee Phillips. of Washington, D.C. The original Wikipedia complaint, filed in September 2009, alleged that the site's editors were campaigning to disparage and malign Null by permitting the posting of false and defamatory information about Null’s credentials and/or qualifications in a Wikipedia article. Null was apparently concerned about brief critical statements with hyperlinks to Quackwatch and two other sites from which the information was extracted. Null’s main concern appears to have been an article on the Quackwatch Web site that, according to Wikipedia, had criticized “the validity of Null’s Ph.D. thesis, his alternative health claims, and several of his commercial products.”  Wikipedia notified Null’s attorneys that it is not liable for what is posted on its pages because, under the Internet Decency Act, publishers who operate interactive Web sites are not liable for the information posted by users of their sites. Null filed an amended complaint which alleged that the link to the Quackwatch article should have been removed because it was “not properly sourced.” Wikipedia’s attorneys disagreed and filed a motion to dismiss the suit and award costs and attorney fees. But in November 2009, before the court could rule, the parties signed an agreement under which the suit would be dismissed and Null would pay $475 to cover Wikipedia’s costs. The Phillips suit objected to the fact that in 2008, Phillips had posted an "open letter" [6] on his Web site that referred to Null’s Ph.D. degree as “bogus.” In June 2010, A New York State Supreme Court judge dismissed the suit on jurisdictional grounds. Neither of the suits resulted in removal of the criticisms to which Null objected.

Washington Independent, Editing Libel Out of Wikipedia = Vandalism, David Weigel, March 9, 2009. I won’t link to WorldNetDaily unless I have to, and unless I’m typing with lead-lined gloves. But Matt Drudge linked the conspiracy site’s story about Wikipedia deleting Barack Obama Birther conspiracies, and the mysteriously popular GatewayPundit informs us that this is tyranny.

Internet Reputation.com, Libel, Slander & Defamation on Wikipedia, Staff report, 2014. While Wikipedia is ordinarily a great resource for digging up information, it can turn on you in a second.  Unfortunately, the good aspects of Wikipedia can be overshadowed by libel or unwanted information. The benefits of a public database of knowledge quickly erode when your information is falsely presented.  Don’t let Wikipedia get the best of your reputation; let us step in and handle it for you. Below are some of the most common problems individuals and business owners will run into with Wikipedia. Unfortunately, despite Wikipedia’s strict guidelines, libel is still destroying many people’s online reputations.  However, you don’t have to let your Internet reputation suffer from libel on Wikipedia.  Suppressing libel is a challenge, but with the right tools and know-how it can be done. Wikipedia is more concerned about disseminating information than protecting people’s reputations.  And, while the editors at Wikipedia try to ensure that all information on the site is accurate and up to date, the fact of the matter is, Wikipedia is simply too big for its staff and volunteers.This means damaging content about your reputation can be on Wikipedia for days or even weeks before it’s addressed.  By that time, the damage is already done, and it’s quite possible that the original damaging content has spread to blogs and other sources online.  If you’re facing Internet reputation issues now, it’s essential to put a stop to them before they appear on Wikipedia.

Huffington Post, Billionaire Louis Bacon Wins Wikipedia Defamation Suit, Will Go After Names, Amy Lee, May 9, 2011. Most comment trolls don't think they'll ever have to show their faces to the people they insult. But Louis Bacon, an American billionaire hedge fund manager has received the go-ahead from a London high court to force three websites to disclose the identities of his alleged defamers, the Guardian reports. Bacon received permission to ask publishers behind Wikipedia, WordPress and the Denver Post to track down online commenters who he claims have posted libelous content about him, according to the Guardian. Bacon, now equipped with a Norwich Pharmacal Order, will serve the websites with the order so that he can go after these individuals for defamation. But according to legal experts, it may be a difficult proposition to get these US companies to agree with the UK court order. The Guardian reports that the Wikimedia Foundation, and Automattic (the company that owns WordPress) have stated it will only comply with a US subpoena for such data. Bacon succeeded in making a similar case against a UK-based site, justhost.com, last year. In the US, Bacon would have some precedent for his actions: last year, an Illinois newspaper was forced to reveal the names of online anonymous commenters in a defamation suit. The same happened to an Indianapolis newspaper in March. And last October, a business student was able to get a court to force Google to reveal the names of commenters insulting her on YouTube.

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

Washington Post, Putin asks to send in troops, Russian parliament approves use of troops in Ukraine, Kathy Lally and William Booth, March 1, 2014.  The move by Moscow appeared to be based on an account of violence by vigilantes in an attempted overnight takeover. But that claim was disputed by Ukrainian officials who said that “all was peaceful.”

Telegraph (United Kingdom), US President Barack Obama "deeply concerned" about reports of Russian military activity in Ukraine and warned of "costs" to any infringement of its sovereignty. Arron Merat, Feb. 28, 2014 (live feeds). Presidential Quote: "The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine/ We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine." Obama recognized that Russia had interests and cultural and economic ties with Ukraine, following the ouster of the pro-Moscow government in Kiev, and also had a military facility in Crimea. The president did not say whether the United States had intelligence as to whether reports quoting a Ukrainian official that 2,000 Russian troops had landed in the Crimea were correct. But he warned a Russian military intervention in the post-Soviet state would "represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukranian people.

Washington Post, Pro-Russia separatists flex muscles in Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, William Booth, Feb. 28, 2014. Several hundred armed men in green camouflage, without insignia and carrying military-style automatic rifles, entered and secured areas of the civilian airport in Crimea’s regional capital of Simferopol early Friday. In Kiev, Ukraine’s new interior minister, Arsen Avakov, said the armed men were Russian troops. “What is happening can be called an armed invasion and occupation. In violation of all international treaties and norms. This is a direct provocation for armed bloodshed in the territory of a sovereign state,” Avakov said. Avakov said troops from the Russian navy’s Black Sea Fleet, berthed principally at the Crimean port of Sevastopol, had also secured entrances to the Belbek military airport near the city. “There is still no direct armed conflict. Diplomats should speak,” Avakov said. A spokesman for the Black Sea Fleet denied the reports that its troops are involved in blocking the Belbek airfield, according to the Interfax news agency. “No subdivision of the Black Sea Fleet has been advanced into the Belbek area, let alone involved in blocking it,” the spokesman said. “Given the unstable situation around the Black Sea Fleet bases in the Crimea, and the places where our service members live with their families, security has been stepped by the Black Sea Fleet’s anti-terror units.”

John McCainCNN, Sen. McCain: Ukraine needs our help now, Jake Tapper, Feb. 27, 2014. There is currently a Russian warship docked about 200 miles from Miami, Florida, at a port in Havana, in communist Cuba. It is loaded with giant military guns and anti-aircraft missiles. There has been no official explanation for what the Russian ship is doing there. Meanwhile, across the world in southern Ukraine, dozens of armed men stormed regional government buildings, including the parliament, and raised Russian flags. The interim government is clashing with the Ukrainians in the streets there. What is Russian President Vladimir Putin up to? Sen. John McCain said the warship in Havana is "just a little bit of saber rattling." What's more concerning is Putin's actions in Ukraine. "He's up to trying to preserve his absolute commitment and ambition of maintaining Ukraine as the part of the Russian empire," said McCain. "Putin is a KGB colonel apparatchik who believes in the Russian empire. That's why he invaded Georgia, that's why he put pressures on Moldova, the Baltic countries. And the crown jewel of that is the Ukraine," said McCain.