02.25.21

If Wikipedia is Controlled by Corporations and Mobs, It Needs to Be ‘Cancelled’

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Wikipedia at 7:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Facts have never truly mattered in social control media sites; it certainly seems as though Wikipedia now suffers the very same issue/deficit, allowing oligarchs and their companies to define what goes on in the world and which people Wikipedia should regard as persona non grata

The concept of “cancel culture” or “call-out culture” is the reason I 'left' Twitter about a year ago (well before they decided to suspend me for totally unspecified reasons). The mass-suspension culture of today’s Twitter (I'm in good company) is itself a sort of “cancel culture”. They basically remove voices that they find inconvenient; instead of confronting the arguments they just eliminate the voice or mute the microphone, even permanently. The underlying psyche of “cancel culture” predates the term; in the case of show business, it’s ‘cancel your programme’; in academia, it’s ending tenures or demoting people for their standpoints (even where dissenting views are otherwise encouraged); in workplaces like corporations, it is getting people fired (sometimes doxing to demonise them or blackmail the employer).

“My general perception/view regarding Wikipedia is getting more negative over time (seeing the degree to which it’s manipulated by the rich and powerful, not domain experts or a real community which values facts), so maybe Wikipedia too needs to be “canceled” at one point. Some people have long worked to make substitutes for it.”Criticism of ‘cancel culture’ can be found in Wikipedia, a platform which itself facilitates ‘cancel culture’. It’s closely related to a culture of mass censorship, wherein people aren’t permitted to deviate from some orthodoxy, which itself changes over time and asserts itself by mass intimidation, begetting self-censorship at scale. Social control media is ideal for this or one might say that it is fertile ground for such campaigns. Self-hosting is one option for mitigating if not eliminating this “no debate allowed” attitude.

Techrights is turning 15 later this year. Within just a few years of the site’s existence several large-scale efforts/campaigns were created and then coordinated to “Cancel” the site (before the word “Cancel” was used; back then they used words like “Watch” or “Boycott”). I mention some of these in the video above. Those efforts/campaigns are now defunct (not even online anymore).

A longtime reader and supporter of Techrights, a lovely person who has contributed to GNU/Linux and Free software for about 3 decades, recently contacted us. The allegation was extraordinary, unless one is already familiar with the antics of Wikipedia mobs and PR occupiers. Apparently someone (person or firm) “initiated a fairly extensive campaign to delete my wikipedia page,” the person told us. The page had been there for many, many years. Why now? Why the attempt to “cancel” this person? That person claims that it’s an act of retribution for speaking out on matters of software freedom (given the timing).

“Wikipedia doesn’t define me,” said this person. “I found it a bit amusing because I was the one who RMS tasked to promote GFDL, so I was a “pusher” of contributing to wikipedia and nupedia… and I was eventually deleted,” said the person.

So being “canceled” by (or in) the very platform one contributed a lot to.

“I can’t recall specific examples,” I responded, “but I do recall many other pages like that which have been deleted or under orchestrated calls for deletion.”

It seems like a common act of censorship or retribution — wherein someone wishes to damage the reputation of an individual or an institution. Wikipedia presence is basically meaningless (can be ‘bought’ or paid-for), so I’m glad I’m not in that site, except as an author named in some citations. It’s no secret that articles there can be paid for, manipulated for a fee, and PR-edited (Microsoft does this a lot and it got caught).

I wouldn’t lose sleep over being “deleted” or “canceled” from Wikipedia. It’s like worrying about how many social control media site “followers” one has… for it’s superficial nonsense.

But what’s noteworthy about the whole thing is that people who speak about the concept of Free software or fight back against adversaries of software freedom (by merely speaking about them) can suffer severe consequences to their reputation and morale. This is exactly the sort of thing I experienced in Twitter last year and the reason that became a "write-only" account.

The video goes through Wikipedia’s definition of the concept of getting “canceled”, why it’s done, why it’s potentially bad and so on. My general perception/view regarding Wikipedia is getting more negative over time (seeing the degree to which it’s manipulated by the rich and powerful, not domain experts or a real community which values facts), so maybe Wikipedia too needs to be “canceled” at one point. Some people have long worked to make substitutes for it.

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