Glenn Greenwald’s System Update episode on Wikipedia’s establishment bias is worth watching.

A few years ago we published a series of pieces on how a certain Wikipedia editor was targeting people and organisations whose politics they dislike and turning their Wikipedia entries into attack pieces. One target was the excellent Media Lens project.

Editors with an axe to grind love Wikipedia because they can manipulate entries anonymously and reach a vast audience that’s largely oblivious to the nature of the edits being made.

But Wikipedia’s own guidance on what kind of sources are acceptable on the site also leads to bias. Greenwald discusses how Wikipedia’s “reliable sources” policy essentially favours large, corporate, establishment-friendly news sources.

He comments:

How does that make any sense? Especially when you look at the history of corporate media in the States. These are the people who lied the country into the Vietnam War through the Gulf of Tonkin propaganda, led the country to the Iraq war, told lies about the anthrax attacks, blaming Iraq for it at exactly the moment the country was trying to go to war with Iraq; called the Hunter Biden laptop Russian disinformation;

…on some level, it should almost be the bigger the media corporation, the less trustworthy they are. That’s what you’d do if you were trying to find truth.

Later in the episode our own work, which focused on how one devoted Wikipedia account used the site to malign British anti-war writers, gets mentioned too:

There has been reporting on people like this Philip Cross from in August 2020. They write:

Philip Cross’s bias and hostile editing of Wikipedia isn’t very subtle. He’s banned from editing in the area of British politics, but it happened after a huge fuss was made and UK media reported on it. Yet he’s still allowed to write over 50% of @MaxBlumenthal’s Wikipedia entry. ( Aug 2, 2020)

On the topic of Philip Cross, it took Wikipedia another two years (October 2022) before it gave the account a full 1-year ban from editing the site. Presumably he’ll be back at it after that, if he hasn’t already started using a different account.

But of course, there are many editors like this. If you look to Wikipedia for information, particularly on political topics, be aware that it is skewed toward corporate, pro-war, establishment-friendly views, all presented under the guise of a neutral encyclopedia.


  • Video: Full episode of System Update on Wikipedia
    • Transcript
  • reporting Wikipedia
  • Caught In The Cross Hairs – Media Lens And The Mystery Of The Wikipedia Editor

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