SUMMARY OF GRIEVANCES AND RATIONALE FOR LEGAL ACTION
1. Wikipedia’s Violation of Its Editorial Standards
Wikipedia is promoted as an “encyclopedia” and in an attempt to authenticate itself as such it compares itself to other general and specialized encyclopedias, almanacs and gazetteers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_is_an_encyclopedia. Wikipedia states that it is not to be a resource for unverifiable material; it is not to provide medical advice or guidance; it opposes censoring; it is not a place to publish personal opinions and; it is not a place to publish factional ideologies and subjective biases.
However, Wikipedia operates in direct violation of its stated principles. Instead it relies upon self-selected editors or editors representing special interests, marginal ideologies, and political and nationalist philosophies to write and compile articles on crucial and relevant subjects related to health, medicine and politics. Little preference is given for scholars in the fields in which they write unless they have reached the higher levels of editorial administration. Wikipedia admits that while traditional encyclopedias are written by experts, Wikipedia follows a different paradigm. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encyclopedia. Theoretically, Wikipedia is supposed to compensate for its inherent weaknesses by requiring references to reputable secondary sources and discourse to reach consensus among editors. Nevertheless, favored editors and administrators can delete any text they personally disapprove and can prevent, and block changes or deletions made by others. Consequently, Wikipedia freely accommodates the subjective views, opinions, personal agendas and special interests of those who have seized control of the encyclopedia’s entries.
Wikipedia entertains and supports numerous amateurs and even “know nothings” about the subjects they are responsible to manage. Editors are not required to properly identify themselves. There is no obligation for editors to make public their names, educational level and professional background for gaining seniority in administrator positions. In the case of Dr. Gary Null and other persons Wikipedia editors have unjustifiably defamed, many editors are simply anonymous. Other editors create fictitious resumes about themselves, such as donning the guise as experts in a medical field.
The deep fundamental flaws and failures in Wikipedia’s structural base have been noted repeatedly by frustrated editors since its founding, including the encyclopedia’s co-founder Larry Sanger. The site continues to degenerate parallel to the deepening pockets of large donations the Foundation solicits.
2. Wikipedia Conflicts with Its Rules On Biographies of Living Persons (BLP)
Wikipedia has outlined very specific and strict rules for Biographies of Living Persons that editors are required to adhere to:
Editors must take particular care when adding information about living persons to any Wikipedia page. Such material requires a high degree of sensitivity, and must adhere strictly to all applicable laws in the United States, to this policy, and to Wikipedia’s three core content policies:
Neutral Point of View (NPOV) Verifiability (V) No Original Research (NOR)
We must get the article right. Be very firm about the use of high-quality sources. All quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be supported by an inline citation to a reliable, published source. Contentious material about living persons… that is unsourced or poorly sourced-whether the material is negative, positive, neutral, or just questionable-should be removed immediately and without waiting for discussion.
On the subject of “Attack Pages”, the policy states:
Pages that are unsourced and negative in tone, especially when they appear to have been created primarily to disparage the subject, should be deleted at once. . . . Creation of such pages, especially when repeated or in bad faith is grounds for immediate blocking.
On the subject of “Self-Published Sources” the policy states:
Never use self-published sources-including but not limited to books, zines, websites, blogs and tweets as sources of material about a living person, unless written or published by the subject of the article. “Self-published blogs” in this context refers to personal and group blogs.
As provided under Remove Contentious Material That is Unsourced or Poorly Sourced Remove immediately any contentious material about a living person that:
• Is unsourced or poorly sourced; • Is a conjectural interpretation of a source (see No Original Research) • Relies on self-published sources, unless written by the subject of the BLP. • Relies on sources that fail in some other way to meet Verifiability standards.
Finally, as provided under Dealing with Edits by the Subject of the Article:
Subjects sometimes become involved in editing materials about themselves, either directly or through a representative. The Arbitration Committee has ruled in favor of showing leniency to BLP subjects who try to fix what they see as errors or unfair material. Editors should make every effort to act with kindness towards the subjects of biographical material when the subjects arrive to express concern. Although Wikipedia discourages people from writing about themselves, removal of an unsourced or poorly sourced material is acceptable. Wikipedia articles must not contain original research. The phrase “original research” (OR) is used on Wikipedia to refer to material – such as facts, allegations, and ideas-for which no reliable published sources exist. This includes any analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to reach or imply a conclusion not stated by the sources. To demonstrate that you are not adding OR, you must be able to cite reliable, published sources that are directly related to the topic of the article, and directly support the material being presented. The prohibition against OR means that all material added to articles must be attributable to a reliable, published source, even if not actually attributed. The verifiability policy says that an inline citation to a reliable source must be provided for all quotations, and for anything challenged or likely to be challenged-but a source must exist even for material that is never challenged. Finally, on the subject of “Reliable Sources” Any material that is challenged or is likely to be challenged must be supported by a reliable source. Material for which no reliable source can be found is considered original research. The only way you can show your edit is not original research is to cite a reliable published source that contains the same material. Even with well-sourced material, if you use it out of context, or to reach or imply a conclusion not directly and explicitly supported by the source, you are engaging in original research…
In general, the most reliable sources are: -Peer-reviewed journals -Books published by university presses -University-level textbooks – Magazines, journals, and books published by respected publishing houses – Mainstream newspapers.
In the case of the Null BLP and many others sharing the same or similar profession as Dr. Null, these rules and standards are routinely ignored.
My March 14, 2018 letter addressed to Wikipedia’s legal department outlines in detail the
falsehoods and distortions in the Null BLP. The facts therein are specifically enumerated in this document. Wikipedia editors take advantage of every opportunity to distort the facts in order to portray Dr. Null in the worst light possible without any pretense towards objectivity. The fabrications in violation of Wikipedia standards include:
• Repeated charges that Dr. Null is an “AIDS Denialist” and that he stated that HIV does not cause AIDS. The evidence to the contrary is fully documented and accessible to Wikipedia editors. • The charge that Dr. Null is anti-vaccination with a sole reference to an article where no such claim or statement is found. • Condemnation with intentional antipathy to discredit Dr. Null’s doctorate degree in public health based upon an erroneous claim that the granting institution lacks accreditation.
Outside legal counsel and former and current Wikipedia editors have determined on our behalf that the Null BLP, while purporting to be an accurate description of a living person, is in fact a hate piece composed by a biased group with the sole intent to afflict harm to Dr. Null’s career and character. Furthermore, our confirmatory documentation we have accessed implicates the Foundation in this effort.
3. Ideological and Unwarranted Source Referencing: Stephen Barrett
Dr. Null BLP uses a single reference as a primary source on nine occasions. The reference comes from the personal website and blog of Dr. Stephen Barrett under a page heading entitled “A Critical Look at Gary Null’s Activities and Credentials” (“Barrett Web Page”). https://www.quackwatch.org/04ConsumerEducation/null.html.
This highly prejudicial writing is employed to make disparaging, self-authenticating claims as to the nature of Dr. Null’s person and practice (“one of the nation’s leading promoters of dubious treatment for serious disease”), to mischaracterize his educational achievements and qualifications in order to conduct a free running and unsupported criticism of his doctoral thesis. The article makes no attempt to highlight Dr. Null’s:
• Accomplishments to improve the health of thousands of people • His many best-selling books, including New York Times best-sellers • His hosting one of the nation’s most popular radio broadcasts aired for 45 years • Sixteen documentary films that have won numerous awards at international film festivals.
The Barrett Page bears none of Wikipedia’s criteria as a reliable or verifiable source of objective information. It falls outside the realm of authentic resources by Wikipedia’s own standards; it is not a peer-reviewed journal, a book published by a university press or respected publishing house, a college level textbook, a magazine, journal or a notable mainstream newspaper. It is a webpage for the purpose of stating personal opinions about Dr. Null, other health practitioners and non-conventional medical modalities who Barrett, his colleagues, and the organizations he is personally affiliated with, oppose. By definition, it is a self-published source, in violation of the unequivocal rule “Never use self-published sources-including but not limited to books, zines,
websites, blogs and tweets- as sources of material about a living person, unless written or published by the subject of the article.” As a self-published composition and opinion piece with unsupported allegations and misinformation, The Barrett Page is unequivocally disqualified as a dependable resource for Wikipedia’s criteria for biographies of living persons. For this reason alone, all references to the Null BLP should follow Wikipedia rules and be “removed immediately and without waiting for discussion.”
Stephen Barrett is a disgraced, unlicensed psychiatrist who administers and operates Quackwatch.com, a website described by Donna Ladd of the Village Voice as “a skeptical psychiatrist’s attempt to torpedo alternative and natural health movements.” Ladd, Donna. “Doctor Who?” Village Voice. June 22, 1999. https://www.villagevoice.com/1999/06/22/doctor-who/. He widely criticizes alternative and complementary medicine and those who practice or advocate the same despite his inexperience in these therapies. Nevertheless, Barrett is on public record for admitting being biased and incapable of criticizing conventional medicine because it is “way outside my scope.” His rationale for opposing alternative medical systems and therapies, such as homeopathy, Chiropractic and acupuncture is based on a false assumption that such therapies need not be tested because “they simply don’t make any sense”. See https://www.naturalblaze.com/2018/03/quackbusters-shock-troops-medical-mccarthyism.html.
Barrett ceased any professional affiliated (and non-accredited) psychiatric practice in 1991 and has since served on many organizations’ boards and advisory committees that promote drug-based medicine, the use of known toxic chemicals in household products, the fast food industry and a wide range of corporate interests through a concerted effort to discredit complementary and integrative medical protocols, which they believe is a competitor to their vested interests. (See, Barrett, Stephen. Curriculum vitae. https://www.quackwatch.org/10Bio/biovitae.html). His lack of credentials and credibility have been exposed multiple times in courts of law. On several important court cases, he has lost his professional credibility and, in every instance, has faced an embarrassingly unfavorable ruling.
• In 2003, Barrett’s National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF) brought suit against 43 “Alternative Medicine proponents” in California, claiming that they were engaging in health fraud “because what they were doing wasn’t scientifically proven.” Barrett lost the case the Court declared he “was found to be biased and unworthy of credibility.” • In, 2005, Stephen Barrett’s defamation lawsuit against Pennsylvania-based chiropractor, lecturer, researcher and publisher Ted Koren was thrown out by a judge just minutes before going before a local jury. • In a landmark 2006 case, originally known as Barrett v. Clark, then for the appeals process renamed Barrett v. Rosenthal, the California Supreme Court voted unanimously to reject a libel claim filed by Barrett. His personal bias against alternative medicine was made unquestionably clear in the judge’s ruling: “Plaintiffs Stephen Barrett and Terry Polevoy are physicians primarily engaged in combating the promotion and use of ‘alternative’ or ‘nonstandard’ healthcare practices and products.”
References to Stephen Barrett and his Quackwatch website riddle Wikipedia’s pages on
practically every alternative medical and healing system and practice, as well as the personal biographies of alternative medicine’s leading practitioners and advocates. Barrett has been the co-Chair of the Health Claims Subcommittee at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), one of the Skeptics’ flagship organizations, since 1980. CSI and other skeptic organizations are publicly vocal about their mission to eradicate the legal practice of many if not most non-conventional medical systems.
Barrett, who holds no degrees in nutrition or dietetic science, has consistently been regarded and quoted as an expert pundit about nutrition by the mainstream media. His credentials are solely self-professed and have been fabricated by his backers to maximize his marketability for the institutions that financially support him. He has never displayed any deep knowledge about the therapies he attacks. For example, when questioned in an interview about his knowledge of the therapies he chastises, he stated they are simply too illogical to be effective and they “don’t need to be tested [because] they simply don’t make any sense.” This has been the fundamental premise for his aggression against non-conventional medicine during his entire career. Nevertheless, he has appeared countless times across the major networks to comment on medical controversies or to promote pharmaceutical interests over claims of safer non-pharmaceutical remedies.
Barrett has called himself a “legal expert,” but has no professional legal training. He continues to identify himself as a psychiatrist, although he failed his medical board certification exam back in the 1990s and has not legally practiced for almost three decades. As a trained psychiatrist, he has no formal scientific background or credentials to qualify him as a pundit either for or against chiropractic, nutrition and supplements, herbal medicine, homeopathy, or any other alternative medical practice. Although there are tens of thousands of studies and clinical trials published in the peer-reviewed medical journals, either supporting or questioning the health benefits of non-conventional medical therapies, nutrition, and natural medicines, Barrett has never shown to have a sound knowledge with the scientific literature. We have documented and countered Wikipedia’s entries for each of these medical interventions and many more. The pattern throughout is unmistakable.
In addition, no references to Stephen Barrett’s misuse and failures in his use of legal recourse to harm alternative medicine and for personal prestige and profit are found on his Wikipedia entry for a living person. Many of Wikipedia’s skeptic editors who protect Barrett’s page from editorial efforts to create a more deserving balance about his background, credentials and his professional associations are affiliated with the same network of skeptic organizations and anti-alternative medicine factions who control and administer the pages of Dr. Null and other alternative health advocates. Barrett’s Wikipedia BLP therefore is not surprisingly pristine. Likewise, Barrett’s Quackwatch Wikipedia entry is glowing and all attempts to introduce documented evidence to the contrary are censored. This is a clear indication of subjective and unwarranted biases that Wikipedia itself advocates and very likely, as our documentation confirms, promulgates an ideological slant resulting in gross prejudice against others and in violation to its rules.
4. Wikipedia’s Biased and Preferential Treatment to Skeptic Organizations
During the past decade various editors have attempted to edit the Null BLP to correct errors in the Null BLP. Each time these corrections were quickly reverted, often in minutes, and without the opportunity for an open forum discussion that Wikipedia pretends to promote. Dr. Null is not alone. The entire field of alternative and complementary health have been universally condemned across Wikipedia as well as those who practice it.
We have directly communicated with highly respected experts with impeccable, professional credentials who have been viciously attacked on their Wikipedia biographies. Some have had their reputations seriously stained and even destroyed. Yet there is no viable channel for them to receive due process, only the pretense of a process that is designed to bury any attempts to correct errors in a procedural no man’s land. This led Dr. Null, his staff, independent journalists and legal experts to perform their own in-depth investigations to determine for themselves whether their claims are accurate and true.
During the past two years, they have spoken with current and former Wikipedia editors, ex-employees, and notable international celebrities who have been victimized on Wikipedia. In unison they have provided details about the enormous problems they encounter with Wikipedia’s editorial structure that protects false, misleading and derogatory information on their personal biographical pages. Making even a minor successful change to bring accuracy on some pages can often take well over a year if at all.
If one of these individual’s accusation is accurate, it presents a problem for correction. However, if all these complaints are accurate, then it represents a pattern that is embedded and now systemic in the entire Wikipedia platform. The results of this independent research, which have been carefully documented and legally vetted, indicates Wikipedia’s editorial policy constitutes one of the largest lesser known conspiracies currently in full operation on the internet.
The group of editors who rule over all Wikipedia pages covering the fields of health and medicine identify themselves as “skeptics.” This group is represented by a loose knit network of organizations, some with documented ties to the pharmaceutical industry, universally condemn all medical and health practices that are not pharmaceutical based and keep articles that support their positions positive and scandal free. Skeptic editors do not limit their vitriolic attacks to Wikipedia pages dedicated to scientific and medical theories and practices they oppose. They also rule over Wikipedia’s biographies for important living personalities and practitioners and researchers in these fields. Their intention is quite singular: to deny Wikipedia users access to reliable information about health modalities and leading individuals in these fields and who Skeptics have targeted as enemies of their opinionated ideas about scientific progress.
5. Wikipedia’s Culture of Information Terrorism
Our published and unpublished reports, as well as other confidential materials, have revealed evidence that a culture of corruption and malfeasance exists as a controlling force in Wikipedia. It starts with Jimmy Wales, its co-founder and trustee, and his personal ideology and personal associations, and runs throughout Wikipedia’s editorial system.
Wikipedia’s elites operate in secrecy. In general, the more a user or group on Wikipedia protests that there is no “cabal” of powerful editors running the show, the more likely they are to be members of it. Wales himself joked about forming a “cabal” to enforce policy back in September 2001 when the site was being launched. His idea became the Arbitration Committee, which some have likened to Wikipedia’s “supreme court.” Skilled in navigating the dense thicket of rules that has grown up around Wikipedia, ArbCom and the hundreds of administrators who form another bureaucratic layer are able to control what remains on the encyclopedia and what (or who) is deleted. If these powers were wielded fairly, their influence would be welcome – but the rules are instead used as a cudgel to enforce ideological conformity.
The true nature of Wikipedia’s content creation and editorial process, as a collection of entrenched and secretive interest groups and editorial “cabals,” was eloquently explained in an internal email from one of Wikipedia’s cabals that was exposed and made public by Wikileaks. We have found this to be true throughout the entries under out investigation. “There is a saying among Wikipedia editors that Wikipedia is like a prison. Sooner or later you have to join a gang, or the other gangs will get you.” As explained by another insider it boils down to an accumulation of power. Unless you are only editing articles that nobody would ever argue on, you’re bound to find conflict sooner or later. Solving such a conflict in a reasonable manner is hard in any large community and Wikipedia’s policies take extra care to make it even harder, so external factors, such as cabal power, will inevitably be invoked by some participant. Solving these conflicts through reason is an unworkable strategy as any participant can play dirty and derive an advantage. Likewise, seemingly independent editors who are actually cabal members can take turns supporting a position as well as each other to make it appear as if there is a broad consensus. When the conflict ends with one side winning and one side losing the winning side will be socially rewarded and over time will gather more members. The cabals that consistently lose tend to break apart.
Wales may not have singularly founded Wikipedia, but as its public face he has influenced the character of the site more than anyone else. It is his face users see during the fundraising campaigns that bring in far more cash than the site requires to operate – $89 million last year– fueling the growth of an unaccountable bureaucracy, top-secret projects hidden from the Wikipedia rank and file, and an increasingly detached sense of responsibility for the very real harms caused by its contents.
Wikipedia isn’t just dismissive of expertise – it is actively hostile towards experts. While one of the site’s many policies discourages editors from removing something just because they dislike it (WP:IDONTLIKEIT), Wales and a privileged group have made an exception for themselves.
Wales delegated the run-of-the-mill decision-marking to a hand-picked group he called the Arbitration Committee. They take months to make any decisions and dole out multi-month to multi-year or permanent intervention solutions. A reputable encyclopedia usually chooses an
Editor-in-Chief, i.e. one reputable, mature and experienced person with one mind to make high-quality decisions rapidly and perhaps dispense moderate penalties when needed. But the real purpose of Wikipedia is not to be a reputable encyclopedia but rather to assure that the flow of information originates only from favored interests. In the field of health and medicine the interests of the pharmaceutical industry are held of paramount importance, to the detriment of any alternative or complementary health modality, no matter how much the peer-reviewed literature supports its validity.
Increasingly Wikipedia’s reliability is being questioned by prestigious institutions and credible journalists, including the MIT Technology Review and the recently launched Wikipedia Project at Yale University. Writing for the Huffington Post, journalist Sam Slovick asked a question we should all be asking ourselves every time we click into Wikipedia. Slovick asks, “Has Jimmy Wales’ marauding encyclopedic beast finally corrupted the Internet? Has Wikipedia lost all credibility, its purported neutral system compromised by toxic editors?” The most toxic Wikipedia editors now terrorizing and sabotaging the encyclopedia’s pages more often than not are anonymous non-experts and computer hacks who identify themselves with an extreme form of scientific materialism known as Skepticism. These editors now dominate large numbers of Wikipedia entries dealing with non-conventional medicine, parapsychology and doctors and researchers who advocate these disciplines.
As an open-source site with tens of thousands of contributors, Wikipedia should not have a ‘point of view,’ and indeed it officially does not. Articles are supposed to be written from a Neutral Point of View (NPOV) and there are further policies in place to protect living people from slander. Once strongly enforced, these are now ignored, as malicious actors have developed an alternate channel of rules to circumvent them. Entire sections of Wikipedia – alternative medicine, nutrition, progressive political movements and activism – have become reputational prisons, where indelible scarlet letters are branded on the persons associated with them. Alternative healing is shackled with the “pseudoscience” and “quackery” tags, allowing admins to punish anyone making unsanctioned changes to these pages with a block or a ban; politically sensitive pages are also booby-trapped with administrative sanctions, chilling any attempts to correct false information. Classifying a person or topic as “FRINGE” invokes a set of policies largely exempting editors from the rules surrounding the NPOV rule, and ideologically motivated editors have wasted no time in corralling their victims into this internet ghetto.
6. Jimmy Wales Complicity with Skeptical Ideology
In 2014, Wales declared open season on alternative medicine by rejecting a petition that called for Wikipedia to treat such topics with the respect. In effect Wales has dismissed entire communities of non-conventional medicine practitioners as “lunatic charlatans.” Skeptics had infiltrated Wikipedia long before. Through years of “meatpuppeting” efforts – bringing in backup from outside Wikipedia to support biased opinions in editorial or administrative disputes – the webmaster for QuackWatch’s email list, Paul Lee, was able to attain a quorum to have his mentor’s page declared a Reliable Source. He canvassed Skeptic email lists, message boards
devoted to “debunking” chiropractic, and the now-defunct SkepticWiki in order to amass an army of Skeptic editors to shift the official Wikipedia point of view.
We have evidence that Lee made many supportive posts on Wales’ talk page during this time. Somehow, Wales’ stated policy morphed from “editors who don’t stop to think that reverting someone who is trying to remove libel about themselves is a horribly stupid thing to do…. Real people are involved, and they can be hurt by your words. We are not tabloid journalism; we are an encyclopedia” (July 2006) to “What we won’t do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of “true scientific discourse.” (March 2014) . Wales has never been tolerant of alternative healing modalities – he believes homeopathy should be illegal. Were it merely a matter of personal preference, Wales would be entitled to his beliefs, but when they become policy, superseding the rights of individuals not to be libeled on public platforms, they are problematic .
7. Violations of Tax-Exempt Non-Profit Status The Wikimedia Foundation has also violated its obligations as a tax-exempt organization.
Aside from all the offenses summarized above, which violate its stated purpose sworn to so it could obtain tax exempt status, The Wikimedia Foundation, a California not-for-profit corporation, doing business as Wikipedia (“Wikipedia”), is in violation of its tax-exempt status in ways that flaunt the IRS rules in a scheme to evade the payment of millions of dollars in federal taxes. In particular:
• Wikipedia (and its parent company the Wikimedia Foundation) has repeatedly violated IRS regulations governing nonprofit corporations, supporting certain political candidates while denigrating others. • Wikipedia has selectively permitted pay-to-play editing and institutional conflicts of interest, particularly where generous donors are concerned • Wikipedia has applied its rules unevenly to favor political and corporate establishment entities while libeling those it dislikes, in violation of its own policies
For more detail, we refer your attention to a letter we have sent to the Internal Revenue Service and otherwise widely circulated. A copy is attached to this email and accompanies any hard copies. A few illustrative examples from that letter include:
– A cabal of editors exists who work together to bias articles and to hide embarrassing facts about left-wing political figures, while at the same time smearing conservatives. Scandals involving left-wing personalities are labeled “conspiracy theories”, for
example, Spygate (conspiracy theory by Donald Trump) or “controversies” such as IRS targeting controversy or Hillary Clinton email controversy. – Methods biased editors’ standard tactics include claiming right-leaning sources as being unreliable (non-RS). This also applies to centrist sources that are simply being truthful. The best way to observe Wikipedia is by reading an article’s Talk page. One can see editors’ disparaging sources contrary to the mainstream media talking points. You will see scandals involving left-wing figures are typically dismissed as conspiracy theories. You will also see many derogatory comments about conservative figures, especially Donald Trump and Republican congressmen and senators. Editors who fight for balanced coverage eventually get permanently blocked. – Many administrators and senior editors make no secret of their political beliefs, which is not in itself an issue until one recognizes the techniques, they use to freeze out opposing views. For example, the user BullRangifer wrote that non-believers in the Russiagate conspiracy “lack the competence needed to edit American political subjects.” They should be “monitored carefully,” since their political views are “at odds with the basis of all editing here,” and banned when they attempt to cite “fake news” as a source. Excluding information sourced from “fake news” sounds reasonable enough until one scans their list of “reliable sources,” which excludes anything to the left of the Huffington Post or to the right of The Economist.
– The Wikimedia Foundation is a noted beneficiary of politically linked funds. The Hewlett Foundation donated $1.3 million to the Wikimedia Foundation in 2010 for “general operating support,” a grant the Heartland Institute (a right-wing think tank that has itself been a victim of ideologically motivated Wikipedia editing) claims coincided with Wikipedia’s political shift. Also, in 2010, Wikimedia received a $2 million grant from the Tides Foundation, which pioneered the “dark money” approach to political fundraising, anonymizing donors and recipients to shield both from IRS, media, and political scrutiny. Wikimedia donated $5 million back to Tides in 2016 even as Tides continues to be listed as a “Major Benefactor” of Wikimedia and actually administers the Wikimedia Foundation’s endowment, which currently stands at $28 million. Because the endowment is managed by Tides, it is not subject to the fundraising rules that govern the Foundation itself which require a certain percentage of its income to come from small donations; as a result, such deep-pocketed entities as Google, Facebook, Amazon, and George Soros have each contributed over $1 million to the endowment.
– There is clearly a double standard at work that extends to the pages of members of Congress. Congressmen Adam Schiff and Marco Rubio have detailed articles listing their accomplishments, omitting their gaffes and controversies, and even sliding in the occasional “peacock” word like “influential” – while representatives with views that to the contrary, whether to the right like Louie Gohmert or to the left like Tulsi Gabbard, are subject to questionable terminology, called racists or conspiracy theorists
8. Wikipedia’s Violation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
The statements made in the Null BLP constitute legally actionable defamation, libel per se and defamation by implication. At the hands of Wikipedia, Dr. Null has been subject to vilification, character assassination and trade disparagement and has lost millions of dollars in business and other opportunities as a result. The statements, to the extent they have cast him as professionally unfit are considered libelous per se. Further, by distorting events and omitting facts in a way that implies a defamatory connection or implication is also actionable and will subject the foundation, and all responsible individuals to compensatory and punitive damages. Wikipedia’s decision to refuse to address the points we have made in our previous letters and articles no doubt relies upon the assumption its actions are protected by the immunity provision set forth in Section 230 of the CDA. This is not the case. Wikipedia cannot rely upon Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”) to shield itself from legal action as a result of its continued publication of the Null BLP because it creates the content that appears thereon or directs or controls those that do. In addition, anyone who visits Wikipedia directly, or is directed there through a Google search link, will attribute the article and its content to Wikipedia, not a collection of unknown and unnamed editors. An interactive computer service is only covered by that provision if it is merely reposting the content created by independent third parties. While some degree of editing is permitted it must be clear that the material being read was submitted by others. The entries in the Null BLP do not lead a visitor to the page to believe that Wikipedia is quoting third parties, who in turn are making the defamatory statements. The Null BLP simply makes statements, including false and defamatory ones, that are presented as “facts” and then cites references that it claims support such sources. To the person reading the biography the source of Dr Null’s biography’s content is Wikipedia, in its guise as an “encyclopedia.”
We acknowledge that Wikipedia will claim that the false and defamatory statements do not originate from Wikipedia but are provided to Wikipedia from third-party contributing editors and that the organization merely posts them with minimal editing for readability and oversight. However, nowhere in the biography of Dr. Null are there attributions to the third-party editors/contributors who supposedly provided the content. For example, where the article states “Null has argued that HIV is harmless and does not cause AIDS” there is a footnoted reference to an article but no reference in the Null BLP as to the identity of the editor who submitted this content. This lack of attribution leads a reader to the obvious conclusion that Wikipedia is the provider of the content.
Any claim that a particular entry was contributed by a single third-party editor and that the article as a whole is a compilation of contributions from third-party editors is not apparent to a reader. It does not matter that someone very skilled in exploring Wikipedia might be able to find an editor’s page or article history page and see where a particular change or contribution has been made. It is ludicrous to expect the public to conduct that kind of research. Normally, contributions by third parties on a web site are identifiable as distinct contributions. Each contribution identifies the third-party by name, pseudo name or as anonymous. In Null BLP everything is blended together as single article. To anyone reading the article the author is Wikipedia. By doing this Wikipedia goes beyond posting and editing the separate submissions of third-party content. Rather, it merged all of these supposed contributions into one article and