Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wikipedia Text Will Be Used To 'Curb Fake News' On YouTube, But Who Will Curb Fake Entries On Wikipedia?

Screenshot from a video posted to YouTube by TruthMovementIsCool

Teachers have a love/hate relationship with the user-generated online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

Search engines privilege it to such an extent that lazy researchers find this source most easily. The layout and presentation suggest entries on Wikipedia are factual in nature, and entries usually have some nifty Creative Commons licensed visuals to accompany text.

Most teachers won't accept it as a source, claiming that no editors can attest to its veracity. Actually, a plethora of editors vie with each other to bring forward truth, but it has long been understood that they don't always play fair.

Enter Philip Cross.

Philip Cross is an alleged human Wikipedia editor who appears tireless, working 24/7 for years now without a single day off. Cross is kept so busy making changes to the biographical entries of people who effectively criticize corporate government policies, including war, in the U.S., U.K. and Israel.

Australian blogger Caitlin Johnstone wrote about him here in "Wikileaks Is An Establishment Psyop." In other words, propaganda.

Would it surprise you to know that George Galloway, MP most likely to speak up for Palestine, has been the subject of Philip Cross's most frequent edits? 

An excerpt from Johnstone's piece on Medium:

"the only real power in this world is the ability to control the dominant narrative about what’s going on. The only reason government works the way it works, money operates the way it operates, and authority rests where it rests is because everyone has agreed to pretend that that’s how things are. In actuality, government, money and authority are all man-made conceptual constructs and the collective can choose to change them whenever it wants. The only reason this hasn’t happened in our deeply dysfunctional society yet is because

the plutocrats who rule us have been successful in controlling the narrative."[emphasis mine]

Now comes YouTube, another madly popular crowdsourced repository of knowledge, truths, half truths and outright lies. Surgeons consult it to learn new procedures. Researchers use it to find interviews they can't conduct themselves. Conspiracy theorists use it to promote their versions of the reality they believe lurks beneath the surface of official pronouncements.

YouTube's CEO just announced at media conference SXSW that, in an effort to combat so-called "fake news," the platform will begin pairing text from Wikipedia with conspiracy theory videos.

YouTube was bought by Google in 2006. You know Google -- the search engine that was modified recently to downgrade alternative news sources in preference for corporate news sources. If you often use Google you will probably have noticed that now you get hits from the New York Times and Washington Post and CNN rather than a mix of hits including alternative news sites such as Consortium NewsPopular Resistance, or Democracy Now!

Back to the education problem: a study some years ago claimed to find that Wikipedia was actually more accurate than the Encyclopedia Britannica. Since victors write history, that's not very surprising. It was around the same time that someone did an analysis of headlines in the big corporate newspapers as compared with headlines in The Onion (which was subsequently captured by the Democratic Party in time for Hillary Clinton's campaign for the White House) and found The Onion was more accurate.

Source: The Onion

When I taught high school social studies I wouldn't accept Wikipedia as a source; however, I did recommend it as a source of sources i.e. look at the Citations and Bibliography sections at the end of many entries for links to other, more reliable -- or at least more vetted -- sources to explore.

Kids today would way rather use YouTube for research purposes. Natalie Jarvey writing in The Hollywood Reporter quoted a tweet from Wikimedia's CEO about one problem with the idea of contesting fake news using Wikipedia text paired with videos: "we require people to edit us to stay up-to-date. Scraping our content means people can't contribute." 

In other words, "people" like Philip Cross can't contribute.

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