Larry Sanger, the man who co-founded Wikipedia, has cautioned that the website can’t always be trusted to give people the truth.
He said it can give a “reliably establishment point of view on pretty much everything.”
“Can you trust it to always give you the truth? Well, it depends on what you think the truth is,” said Mr Sanger, who co-founded Wikipedia in 2001 alongside Jimmy Wales.
He told Lockdown TV that “if only one version of the facts is allowed then that gives a huge incentive to wealthy and powerful people to seize control of things like Wikipedia in order to shore up their power. And they do that.”
He said it (Wikipedia) “seems to assume that there is only one legitimate defensible version of the truth on any controversial question. That’s not how Wikipedia used to be.”
Wikipedia is visited by millions every day and is the first online repository of information for many.
Mr Sanger cited the example of an article about US President Joe Biden and says it doesn’t include information from the Republicans’ perspective.
“The Biden article, if you look at it, has very little by way of the concerns that Republicans have had about him. So if you want to have anything remotely resembling the Republican point of view about Biden, you’re not going to get it from the article,” he said.
He argued that there should be at least a paragraph about the Ukraine scandal but there is very little of that.
“Very little of that can be found in Wikipedia. What little can be found is extremely biased and reads like a defence counsel’s brief, really,” he said.
The Wikipedia founder also said there are companies that hire paid writers and editors to go in and change articles.
“Maybe there’s some way to make such a system work, but not if the players who are involved and who are being paid, are not identified by name — they actually are supposed to be identified by name and say ‘we represent this firm’ if they are officially registered with some sort of Wikipedia editing firm,” he said.
“But they don’t have to do that because there is no requirement of real names. As I say it is a very complex sort of game ... there are all sorts of tricks that people can play to win it,” he added.
He cautioned that “Wikipedia is known now by everyone to have a lot of influence in the world. So there’s a very big, nasty, complex game being played behind the scenes to make the article say what somebody wants them to say.”
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