Study Measures Wikipedia’s Left-leaning Bias, Personal Experience Confirms

Upon meeting someone for the first time, I can often discern whether they have taken the initiative to search my name and read my Wikipedia entry.

Having a Wikipedia page dedicated to you can be quite unsettling: Strangers are able to gather a significant amount of information about you at a glance, without having ever met you.

And for a conservative individual, the Wikipedia portrayal is usually not the ideal first impression they would want to create.

Being a conservative with a Wikipedia entry means that anyone who meets you has likely already read a negative article about you, constructed by possibly hundreds of individuals intent on showcasing the worst possible image of you to the world.

For instance, if you take a look at my Wikipedia entry, there is an exaggerated focus on a single tweet I posted a decade ago about nuking Hamas after a brutal attack on Israeli teenage boys, painted to depict me as a genocidal extremist.

This trend is well-documented: Conservative public figures and right-leaning organizations frequently fall prey to an ideological bias that persists among Wikipedia editors.

Even Larry Sanger, a co-founder of the site, acknowledges this long-standing bias.

“Since 2020, he has criticized Wikipedia for what he perceives as a left-wing and liberal ideological bias in its articles,” notes Sanger’s own Wikipedia page.

A recent report from the Manhattan Institute corroborates this perception, based on a computerized language study of numerous Wikipedia articles.

As explained by author David Rozado, the study revealed that “Wikipedia articles tend to associate right-of-center public figures with somewhat more negative sentiment than left-of-center public figures.”

Rozado’s analysis also noted “prevailing associations of negative emotions (e.g., anger and disgust) with right-leaning public figures and positive emotions (e.g., joy) with left-leaning public figures” — suggesting that this bias is seeping into artificial intelligence systems and products.

But the bias transcends Wikipedia’s language biases.

Just recently, Wikipedia’s editors declared that the Anti-Defamation League, an organization founded to combat antisemitism, cannot be considered a reliable source on the Israel-Palestine conflict — and even more shockingly, labeled the ADL as an unreliable source on antisemitism itself.

So, who do the site’s editors deem reliable?

They trust organizations with well-documented biases and ideologically-driven unreliability in their reporting.

Amnesty International and B’Tselem, for example, are two organizations with established biases against Israel, yet they are frequently cited by Wikipedia as credible sources.

Another purportedly reliable resource, according to Wikipedia editors, is the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has exhibited a strong bias against conservatives in recent years.

“The SPLC took the program it used to bankrupt organizations associated with the Ku Klux Klan and weaponized it against conservative groups, partially to scare donors into ponying up cash and partially to silence ideological opponents,” writes Tyler O’Neil of The Daily Signal, whose upcoming book “Making Hate Pay” delves into the SPLC’s overwhelming bias.

As antisemitism scholar Izabella Tabarovsky remarked, “What [Wikipedia’s editors] are essentially saying is that a source is ‘objective’ if it aligns with the editors’ antizionist & anti-Israel views.”

“From now on we can consider Wikipedia to be intentionally trafficking in disinformation on antisemitism and probably on much other content related to Jews — and, of course, specifically on Israel and Zionism,” she added.

Upon news of its dispute with the ADL, Sanger criticized the site’s editors as “clowns.”

He’s not far off the mark.

Simply reviewing the edit history of my own Wikipedia page exposes some of this clownish behavior up close.

Editors constantly debate my alleged genocidal intentions, as well as my purported Islamophobia and racism, while making frequent changes to the text.

This would be comical — if these strangers with ulterior motives did not wield such significant influence over public perceptions of individuals, including myself, and other subjects covered on the site.

Recently, one of my daughter’s friends confided in me about her grandfather’s online infamy. As she spoke, I pulled out my phone.

“Please don’t check his Wikipedia,” she pleaded, assuming I was looking him up.

My daughter kindly reassured her friend.

“Don’t worry,” she said. “The internet has its grievances against my mom too.”

Bethany Mandel is the co-author of “Stolen Youth” and a homeschooling mother of six based in greater Washington, DC.

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