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Wikipedia Editors Paid to Protect Political, Tech, and Media Figures


WestVirginiaRebel

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A report in Huffington Post recently revealed the case of Wikipedia editor Ed Sussman, who was paid by media clients such as NBC and Axios to help diminish critical material. Paid editors operating in a similar manner to Sussman have worked on behalf of CNN contributor Hilary Rosen and the CEOs of Reddit and Intel, among other clients.

Other conduct by Sussman not covered by the Huffington Post shows him authoring fluff pieces for NBC executives and getting his proposed changes approved by another paid Wikipedia editor.

The report by Ashley Feinberg detailed former journalist Ed Sussman’s work as a paid Wikipedia fixer for clients such as Axios, NBC, and Facebook. Sussman did this work through the firm WhiteHatWiki, which he argues follows Wikipedia policies. Sussman disclosed his paid editing on Wikipedia and ostensibly worked within the rules by having other editors approve proposed changes.

However, Feinberg’s article noted several of Sussman’s requests involved removing or watering down potentially damaging material about clients, even when citing sources considered reliable on the site. Such removals would appear to violate Wikipedia’s neutrality policy, which states:

All encyclopedic content on Wikipedia must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), which means representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without editorial bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic.

In one example Feinberg cited, Sussman requested changes to the page of Axios journalist Jonathan Swan regarding a false report he made last September claiming Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was resigning. A line noting the incident in Swan’s article was replaced with a paragraph hyping that Swan was “the first to report” Rosenstein’s offer to resign, despite the offer being refused. Sussman backed this spin with a New York Timesarticle treating the incident as a failure of the Axios reporting model, a fact not mentioned in Sussman’s proposed edit.

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Some edits are more equal than others.

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