by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Wikipedia’s quiet dominance over internet knowledge and close ties to authoritarian big tech companies is giving the online encyclopedia site too much unchecked power.
In one recent example, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is under federal and state investigation for mishandling the COVID-19 pandemic and growing list of scandals, is described on his Wikipedia page in a positive light while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential GOP frontrunner for the 2024 presidential election, is painted as a partisan hack who ignored the science.
Anyone who searches for information about both of these governors’ pandemic responses will be given this information that isn’t necessarily true, and Wikipedia doesn’t seem to do anything about it. As a matter of fact, any user who wanted to manipulate a page to fit his agenda could as long as it slipped through Wikipedia’s editing process. That happened seven years ago when a Wikipedia user overlooked The Federalist’s long list of “featured-in” publications and important interviews to try to delete our publication’s entry because, according to the user, it “does not pass the threshold for notability.”
Wikipedia’s move to the left, especially when echoing narratives found in corporate media, is not a sudden one. Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger is just one of the many people who recently called attention to Wikipedia slowly but surely kissing its neutrality goodbye. In an interview in February, Sanger said the 20-year-old website’s shift towards the left is “disheartening” and “troubling.”
“Wikipedia’s ideological and religious bias is real and troubling, particularly in a resource that continues to be treated by many as an unbiased reference work,” Sanger said.
Years before that, Sanger claimed the online encyclopedia was “broken beyond repair” and raised alarms about the informalities associated with the site’s so-called editing process, which he said caters to “mob rule.”