Getting lectured on cyber civility by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is a bit like listening to a Ku Klux Klan leader talk about how to improve race relations.
Wales seized the opportunity to condemn social networking sites, blogs and other online forums for being “carelessly rude” and “intentionally abusive.”
“There is no shortage of examples – from the recent Twitter heckling at a Web 2.0 Expo in New York, to a Facebook poll asking whether President Obama should be killed,” Wales wrote. “The comments sections of online gossip sites, as well as some national media outlets, often reflect semi-literate, vitriolic remarks that appear to serve no purpose besides disparaging their intended target.”
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!
Wales created and presides over what may be the biggest and most blatant example of systematic, carefree and reckless defamation in the history of the world.
Just two days after his appeal for creating “an online culture in which every person can participate in an open and rational exchange of ideas and information without fear of being the target of unwarranted abuse, harassment or lies” and “accountability and responsibility,” Wales’ Wikipedia twice pronounced hospitalized talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh dead, citing as its authority a tasteless and unfunny spoof blog that claimed he had become a vampire who craved virgin’s blood.
I have more than a little personal experience with Wikipedia’s penchant for lies, distortions and character assassination – a history as long as the “free encyclopedia’s” own nine-years online.
Just last week, WND reported on the latest example of Wikipedia’s institutionalized jihad against me and my news organization in which I was characterized on the site visited by some 700 million people as a “Zionist Twit and Jew Loving Pig.”
This was hardly an isolated example of Wikipedia’s vicious style of name-calling attacks and “uncivil” publishing activity.
This Dec. 30 Wikipedia profile of WorldNetDaily called Joseph Farah a “Zionist Twit and Jew Loving PIg” before it was later removed.
The very day the Wall Street Journal was publishing Wales’ holier-than-thou sermon, his own Wikipedia described me in its official profile thusly: “Joseph Farah is an American author, journalist and editor-in-chief of the conservative website WorldNetDaily (WND). He is a known [expletive] sucker.”
Two weeks earlier, WND was characterized as “an [sic] far-right American online web site that publishes editorials from a Christian conservative and pro-white point of view.” My own profile on Wikipedia in November claimed: “It is a widely known rumour [sic] that Mr. Farah is a closet homosexual and has been repeatedly criticized for his hypocrisy.” Last September Wikipedia claimed even more illiterately: “WorldNetDaily is a terrorist news- and editorial-based publishing news and opinion from a Republican or conservative point of view. Founded in May 1997 with the unstated intentions of devoting 70% coverage to portraying Islam as Anti-Christ to fulfil [sic] the armaagedon [sic] and rapture fantasies that most of its founders carry, and with the stated intentions of “exposing wrongdoing, corruption and abuse of power.”
Sept. 6, 2009, entry describes WND content as “terrorist news” that is devoted to “portraying Islam as Anti-Christ.”
Wikipedia’s profile page for me has alternately claimed I am “homophobic,” a “conspiracy theorist,” “white supremacist,” a “proud member of the Ku Klux Klan,” a “religious nutcase” and “a pioneer in the political uses of psychedelics.”
“He also enjoys chowing down on babies once in a while,” stated one Aug. 7, 2008, entry.
On April 2, 2007, an edit to my biography offered the following: “He is also an Arab self-hating, Zionist-supported d—–bag whose slanderous drivel isn’t worth considering. Down with WorldNetDaily.”
In this now-deleted April 2, 2007, entry from the Wikipedia profile on Joseph Farah, an editor calls him “an Arab self-hating, Zionist supported d——bag whose slanderous drivel isn’t worth considering.”
Last year, Wikipedia introduced me like this: “Joseph Francis Farah is an Evangelical Christian American journalist and noted homosexual of Lebanese and Syrian heritage.” There have been dozens of explicit homosexual statements and accusations made in my profile since.
As I mentioned in a column earlier this week, “Previously, the volunteer ‘editors’ at Wikipedia claimed publicly I had an affair with a prominent female syndicated columnist. Then they characterize me as a ‘noted homosexual.’”
Largely because of WND’s reporting on such patently libelous personal attacks, Wikipedia revised its official policies on biographies of living people, asserting that they “must be written conservatively, with regard for the subject’s privacy. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a tabloid paper; it is not our job to be sensationalist, or to be the primary vehicle for the spread of titillating claims about people’s lives.”
Nevertheless, Wikipedia has continued to host such scandalous conjecture without the slightest basis in reality or truth.
Still, Wales continues in his Journal harangue on civility: “Too frequently, we hear the argument that being online includes the right to be nasty – and that those who chose [sic] to participate on the Web should develop thicker skin. This gives transgressors an out for immoral behavior.”
Wales says those of us “appalled at the degeneration of online civility need to speak out, to show that this type of behavior will no longer be tolerated. Targets of online hostility should also consider coming forward to show that attacks can have serious consequences.”
That’s just what I am doing here. I trust I will hear from Wales about how he intends to police his own online creation to bring it in line with his lofty rhetoric.
Yet, it seems he wants Wikipedia to be exempt from the rules he would like to see applied to the rest of us. Last year, when Wikipedia featured detailed photos of nude homosexual men engaging in sex acts and a variety of other sexually explicit images and content, Mark Pelligrini, regional representative for Wikipedia, arrogantly told WND: “Wikipedia’s goal is to provide an encyclopedia that contains the sum of all human knowledge. To that end, Wikipedia does not censor objectionable material.”
In August 2009, again in response to WND’s reports, Wikipedia announced it would seek to impose more discipline with restrictions on article editing. According to the Associated Press, the website tested pages that “won’t register changes unless they are approved by an experienced Wikipedia editor.” The website claimed the new restrictions would apply to biographies of living people within a “few weeks” of testing.
You can judge those results for yourself.
Perhaps most ironically, Wales writes in the Journal article, “People need to know how to differentiate between information that is published on legitimate sites that follow defined standards and also possibly a professional code of ethics, and information published in places like gossip sites whose only goal is to post the most outrageous headlines and stories in order to increase traffic. People can and will learn to shun and avoid such sites over time, particularly with education about why they are unethical.”
I hope readers of this column take Wales’ suggestion seriously and stop visiting Wikipedia for precisely those reasons.
I am actively investigating both a personal defamation case against Wikipedia as well as a class-action lawsuit by other victims of its putrid accusations and shocking untruths. Maybe Wales would like to pony up to the bar to make a contribution to the legal fund to support that effort.
I won’t hold my breath, though. Instead, the Journal article written by Wales, whose creation is arguably the biggest and most powerful purveyor of cyberbullying and cyberharrassment in the world, suggests what is really needed are new laws to protect the victims.
If Wales isn’t able to control his own hate site’s content without new laws, how does he propose to do it when those laws are enacted?