Sanger revealed that Wikipedia has become an instrument of "control" in the hands of the U.S. establishment, which includes the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and other agencies, during an interview on "System Update" with Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and bestselling author Glenn Greenwald.
According to the American philosopher and internet project developer, they have "evidence that even as early as 2008, CIA and FBI computers were used to edit Wikipedia." He also stated that he observed a "gradual change" in the website's content over the years, noting that by 2006 to 2008, articles related to controversial topics in science, such as global warming and certain drugs, began to exhibit what he described as an "over-the-top bias.
Sanger also believed that the site which is claimed to be maintained by a "community of volunteers," became a target for weaponization between 2005 and 2015, with "information warfare … conducted online." "Then I started noticing around 2010 to 2015 that articles on like Eastern medicine and holistic medicine … were so obviously biased," Sanger added, [pointing out that there was a bias towards Western ideas. "It really got over the top … between 2013 and 2018."
Moreover, he highlighted that Wikipedia's perceived bias had intensified during the term of former President Donald Trump. "No encyclopedia to my knowledge has been as biased as Wikipedia has been," he said.
As per Greenwald, the emergence of the Trump administration had a significant impact, as the "liberal establishment narrative" aimed at countering Trump and this appeared to have influenced the site's content.
Sanger also emphasized that the Wikimedia Foundation-hosted site had officially declared that "80 percent of the major sources of news on the right to be unreliable," an obvious measure in the abandonment of Wikipedia's "original neutrality policy" by what he termed as "rank and file Wikipedians." These "employees" now take cues from mainstream left-leaning media outlets like "CNN, MSNBC, and the New York Times."
Elsewhere in the show, he recommended to just consult other online encyclopedias, such as Ballotpedia and Conservapedia. However, these do not rank well on Google. Critics would agree that technocrats could also be censoring the mentioned sites to suppress information other than their liberal rhetoric.
.@Wikipedia is a dominant force in the information ecosystem—largely due to how aggressively it's pushed by Google's search engine.
And controlled by a small number of contributors w/ an appalling pro-establishment bias, it has effectively been forged into a weapon of elites. pic.twitter.com/Q2hFFnDjYS
— System Update (@SystemUpdate_) August 1, 2023
This "phenomenon" is nothing new for Sanger, who had been targeted with political attacks and weaponized propaganda due to his involvement in whistleblower Edward Snowden's release of U.S. government secrets.
Meanwhile, Sanger's revelations aligned with findings from a programming student named Virgil Griffith, who first published evidence of CIA and FBI activity on Wikipedia in 2007. He developed a program that could trace the location of computers used to edit Wikipedia articles and found that the intel and other government agencies as well as several corporations were scrubbing incriminating information on the the online encyclopedia.
He revealed that the CIA used its computers to remove casualty counts from the Iraq War, while the FBI removed aerial and satellite images of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The CIA also used its computers to edit hundreds of articles, including entries on former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, China's nuclear program, and the Argentine navy.
It was also discovered that former CIA chief William Colby edited his own entry to inflate his list of accomplishments.
"[The intelligence agencies] pay off the most influential people to push their agendas, which they're already mostly in line with, or they just develop their own talent within the [intelligence] community, learn the Wikipedia game, and then push what they want to say with their own people," Sanger told Greenwald. "A great part of intelligence and information warfare is conducted online on websites like Wikipedia.
Additionally, X's CEO Elon Musk released a document dump showing how the platform's former executives colluded with the FBI to remove unwanted content. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg also admitted that Facebook censored information that was damaging to President Joe Biden's 2020 election campaign at the direct request of the FBI.
Back in December, Musk also released what he called the "Twitter Files," delving into the company's decision to block the Hunter Biden laptop story. The posts focused on the controversy surrounding Biden's son Hunter Biden and Twitter's reaction limiting the spread of posts about it.
Watch the full episode of "System Update" with Glenn Greenwald featuring Larry Sanger below.