Free for all Forums
editing is not the same thing as censorship
Open forum websites where anyone can post anything often attract disinformation if controversial topics are discussed. They are a wonderful way to bypass media censorship, but they also offer new opportunities for political dirty tricks and must be considered cautiously.
The indymedia network allows anonymous postings from anywhere in the world, which allows hoaxers to post nonsense and personal attacks on their forums. Global Research, a Canadian website with lots of material on 9/11 complicity and related scandals, has a forum where unknown agents posted extremely offensive Holocaust Denial material -- which was used by mainstream media to smear the website's sponsor. The Wikipedia encyclopedia has also allowed anyone to publish anything without a vetting process to check facts -- Wikipedia has now been forced to require a modest effort at verification. Editorial peer review is not censorship.
June 09, 2006
Trolling for Dollars
(an account of paid right wing public relations companies trolling the internet)
Why this blog does not currently allow comments
After almost 2,500 comments in about 4 months, on June 13, 2007 we decided to change course and shut down the comments capability of this blog and do some serious reflection .....
From day one, it seemed clear that there was a need for a space where people could freely debate challenging political issues related to Israel, Palestine, and US foreign policy. Over time, however, the comment boards seem to have drawn in those who communicate in a more polarized fashion, and have chased away people seeking more thoughtful dialogue. Lately, the site has become a forum for posting anti-Semitic in particular, and also other bigoted and racist comments, as well as ugly personal attacks.
There's a big difference between being a censor and an editor. Indymedia's "open publishing" policies allow people sitting in the government offices (if they want) to post comments and articles via a "sock puppet" strategy (create lots of online personas that don't really correlate to real people).
Indymedia is good unless it's about controversial issues. The Portland Indymedia 9/11 information pages are mostly dedicated to pushing the no planes and related hoaxes. Pages on San Francisco Indymedia about the lawsuit by Darryl Cherney and the estate of Judi Bari against FBI and Oakland Police agents for violating their civil rights when they were violently attacked in 1990 has disinfo spam seeking to discredit the documented allegations of police malfeasance.
Indymedia would work better if people had accounts that were bioregionally based. The fact that Portland Indymedia is spammed by people in other time zones and other countries who propagate sheer nonsense is not a triumph for free speech and independent journalism.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
The Dangers of Wikipedia
by Lisa Pease
Ah, the sweet seduction of open source. The fantasy of a place where honest people meet and correct each others mistakes before you reach the page, sigh. Yes, I can see the appeal of Wikipedia. We all can. Many fewer, however, seem able to see the danger inherent in a centralized source for information.
I believe impassionedly the control of information is a goal to those who would subvert our independence, and Wikipedia enables, rather than impedes, that goal.
I agree with all those who recommend Wikipedia as a starting point. But I disagree strongly with anyone and everyone who suggests it's okay to end with Wikipedia. ....
So regarding Wikipedia, we're up against a formidable enemy. The CIA can afford to employ people fulltime to "watch" for changes to these articles. And there are multiple precedents as to why and how they'd do this. By centralizing history, we've made its modification by those who would control us easier, not harder.
Racist Slur at Wikipedia
Thursday October 18, 2006 - entry about assassinated activist Medgar Evers (killed by the KKK in Mississippi in 1963) - a real encyclopedia with editors would not have posted this libel (it has since been removed - but more subtle attacks that are less blatantly ridiculous can easily remain posted indefinitely)
Date of Birth: July 2, 1925
Place of Birth: Decatur, Mississippi
Date of Death: June 12, 1963
Place of Death: Jackson, Mississippi
Occupation: Pimpin' Hoez
Remarks: He kept his pimphand strong
www.wikipedia-watch.org shows how this "anyone can post anything" approach does not work.
I don't think even Jimmy knows who most of his anonymous administrators are. This opens up Wikipedia to infiltration by agents of corporations, governments, or cults. It's a flaw in the structure. ....
Wikipedia is fine if you like trivia. It's great for things that no one cares about. But it goes too far when it sets amateur editors and anonymous administrators loose on the reputations of others.
See Who's Editing Wikipedia - Diebold, the CIA, a Campaign
By John Borland
08.14.07 | 2:00 AM
List anonymous wikipedia edits from interesting organizations
www.wikitruth.info - exposing the practices of sockpuppets, con games and complete lack of accountability
Bioregional Democracy": Deleted from Wikipedia, Likely the U.S. Gov't Psychological Operations Orwellian Encyclopedia
Wikipedia founder plans rival
By Richard Waters in San Francisco
Published: October 16 2006 22:08 | Last updated: October 16 2006 22:08
One of the founders of Wikipedia is days away from launching a rival to the collaborative internet encyclopaedia, in an attempt to bring a more orderly approach to organising knowledge online.
Wikipedia – which is available to be written and edited by anyone on the internet – is one of the most visible successes of mass collaboration on the web, with many of its 1.4m articles appearing high in search results.
However, its openness has also drawn charges of unreliability and left it vulnerable to disputes between people with opposing views, particularly on politically sensitive topics.
Wikipedia Ripe for Political Dirty Tricks
Apr 28 2006 1:57 PM US/Eastern
Email this story
By SHANNON McCAFFREY
Associated Press Writer
Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that can be altered by anyone with a computer, has proved remarkably useful for pulling political dirty tricks.
Political operatives are covertly rewriting _ or defacing _ candidates' biographical entries to make the boss look good or the opponent look ridiculous.
As a result, political campaigns are monitoring the Web site more closely than ever this election year.
Revisions made by Capitol Hill staffers became so frequent and disruptive earlier this year that Wikipedia temporarily blocked access to the site from some congressional Internet addresses. The pranks included bumping up the age of the Senate's oldest member, West Virginia's Robert Byrd, from 88 to 180, and giving crude names to other lawmakers.
The entry for Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall of Georgia labeled him "too liberal" for his state, in part because of a contribution he received from a political action committee run by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. The man who doctored Marshall's biography now works for his Republican challenger.
In Georgia this week, the campaign manager for a candidate for governor resigned amid allegations he doctored the Wikipedia biography of an opponent in the Democratic primary.
Morton Brilliant was accused of revising the entry for Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor to add his son's arrest last August in a drunken driving accident that left his best friend dead.
The information was accurate and had been in the news. But Brilliant's boss, Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox, declared the son's legal troubles out of bounds.
The link to Brilliant was discovered by Taylor's campaign, which immediately accused the Cox camp of engaging in "gutter politics" and demanded Brilliant's resignation.
Some 1,000 volunteer monitors scan changes to Wikipedia's entries to keep them free of obvious partisan editing, factual errors and profanity, said Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
"The beauty of a forum like this is free speech," Wales said. "But we also promote a neutral point of view."
Wales said entries have to meet a standard of newsworthiness and, as a general rule, should not be written by an interested party _ either a supporter or an opponent.
But finding out who is writing what on the site is not always easy. Internet addresses can be traced to a computer, but not necessarily to the person at the keyboard. And experts say someone with computer savvy could easily cover his or her tracks.
With more and more Americans getting news and information from the Internet, the stakes are high. Wikipedia had 25.6 million unique visitors in March, making it the 18th most popular site on the Internet.
Not surprisingly, the Wikipedia entry that has been altered the most is President Bush's. "Take a deep breath," the site urges readers about to plunge into the passionate political debate.
Other changes are more subtle rewrites of history. Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's name has mysteriously started to disappear from the entries of some officials with ties to the embattled Texas politician who is facing a money-laundering trial. The staff of Rep. Martin Meehan, D-Mass., rewrote his biography to delete a reference to a promise, since broken, that he would serve only four terms.
Wikipedia leapt into the news last year after the journalist and former Kennedy administration aide John Seigenthaler Sr. complained that someone had edited his Wikipedia entry to say that he had been involved in the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy. The man who posted the false information said it had been a joke.
The flap prompted Wikipedia to adopt stricter controls, Wales said.
However, such oversight is probably minor, said Steven Jones, who teaches communications and technology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
"Given the sheer size of Wikipedia and the sheer number of entries, it seems impossible that they could police it in an effective way," Jones said.
On the Net:
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
free for all forums can be used to perpetrate dirty tricks -- here is an example of how this was done to discredit Michel Chossudovsky, who has written eloquently about 9/11 complicity - web forums that allow anyone to post anything risk attracting racists and/or government disinformation agents who seek to discredit the website managers or promote their own hateful agendas
** CREDIT: Pat McGrath, The Ottawa CitizenUniversity of Ottawa
professor Michel Chossudovsky says research on his website is 'anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic.
*U of O professor accused of hosting anti-Semitic website*
*Group files complaint over 'wild theories' that blame Jews for 9/11*
By Pauline Tam
*The Ottawa Citizen*
/August 20, 2005/
A Jewish group has filed a complaint to the University of Ottawa against one of its professors after the discovery of content on his website that blames Jews for the terrorist attacks on the United States, and claims the numbers who died at Auschwitz are exaggerated.
The website, www.globalresearch.ca, also reprints articles from other writers that accuse Jews of controlling the U.S. media and masterminding the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Other postings suggest Israel, the U.S. and Britain are the real perpetrators of the recent attacks on London.
The site, which is not hosted by the university, is run by Michel Chossudovsky, a controversial left-leaning economist, and came to the attention of B'nai Brith Canada after public complaints to the advocacy group and the Citizen.
"The material on the site is full of wild conspiracy theories that go so far as to accuse Israel, America and Britain of being behind the recent terrorist bombings in London," said Frank Dimant, executive vice-president of B'nai Brith Canada. "They echo the age-old anti-Semitic expressions that abound in the Arab world, which blame the Jews for everything from 9/11 to the more recent tsunami disaster."
The organization singles out a discussion forum, moderated by Mr. Chossudovsky, that features a subject heading called "Some Articles On The Truth of the Holocaust." The messages have titles such as "Jewish Lies of Omission (about the 'Holocaust')," "Jewish Hate Responsible For Largest Mass Killing at Dachau," and "Did Jews Frame the Arabs for 9/11?"
Another posting suggests the number of Jews who died at Auschwitz during the Second World War is inflated.
None of the postings is written by Mr. Chossudovsky himself. Under Canadian law, website owners can be liable for material they knowingly post, even if they haven't produced it themselves.
"I know this isn't his own writing, but he's certainly got a responsibility for the website, which, I checked, is registered in his name," said Anita Bromberg, B'nai Brith's legal counsel and human rights co-ordinator.
The site identifies Mr. Chossudovsky as the director of the Centre for Research on Globalization and editor of globalresearch.ca. His wife, Micheline Ladouceur, is listed as associate editor. They manages the site out of Montreal.
The site does not mention Mr. Chossudovsky's position at the university, nor does his website at the U of O refer to globalresearch.ca. However, an Internet search of Mr. Chossudovsky's name shows he is listed as an adviser for a Swedish-based group called the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research. Its website contains a biography of Mr. Chossudovsky, his contact information at the U of O and a link to globalresearch.ca.
When reached in South Korea, where he is on a research trip, Mr. Chossudovsky said the offending messages were removed from the forum after he was made aware of them by the Citizen.
But as of late yesterday, some of the postings remain on the site. A discussion thread about 9/11, contained a message that casts doubt on the Auschwitz death count. Other postings under a forum on globalization have titles such as "The Hilarious Auschwitz Story" and "The HolyCo$t Lie is Finished."
Mr. Chossudovsky indicated that despite monitoring the forum "periodically," he did not know about the inflammatory messages, even though they had been posted since March. He added that while he has received complaints before about offensive content on the site, the volume of messages on the forum makes it difficult for him to control what is posted.
"We don't choose the articles that go up, and when we see that there are texts which are racist or hateful, we do, to the best of our abilities, try to remove them."
Mr. Chossudovsky described himself as being of Jewish descent, and said he has relatives who were Holocaust victims. "I'm the first person to withdraw any kind of hate material directed against the Jewish people."
He went on to defend the reprinted articles that have also sparked complaints, saying they are legitimate commentary representing views that are "anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic."
"It's an analysis of Israeli policy which we don't support," said Mr. Chossudovsky, an antiwar commentator and an outspoken critic of U.S. and Israeli policies.
He also noted the site contains a disclaimer saying the articles posted don't necessarily reflect his views as editor.
Jewish students at the University of Ottawa said they have so far received no complaints about the site, but maintain Mr. Chossudovsky has not gone far enough to ensure the website is free of material they consider offensive.
"As an organizer of the site, especially if he is of Jewish descent and his family has gone through the atrocities of the Holocaust, he should take a more active interest in what is posted and published on the site," said Nicole Advocat, an executive member of the university's Jewish Students Association.
Ms. Advocat, a second-year international relations major, worries other students will stumble on to the site.
"Students will come here looking for research information on the topic of globalization. I know as a globalization student, I'm often looking for different sites that can help me find articles and relevant information. And for students who aren't educated about the Holocaust, they could look at this information and say, 'This is the truth.' "
Ms. Bromberg said despite Mr. Chossudovsky's efforts to distance the website from the university, there is a chance students could happen upon it.
"The bottom line is, he is a professor at a leading university, which gives him credibility. ... It worries me what students, who may be very ill-equipped, face. He has an obligation as a professor towards the young minds he teaches."
B'nai Brith is monitoring the website closely, and putting pressure on the U of O to act. "His connection with the university might put some responsibility on the university to hold him to a certain standard of acceptable civil discourse," said Ms. Bromberg.
A U of O spokesman said the university has not yet received a complaint from B'nai Brith, and is not prepared to intervene. "Until we're approached, it's something that we just don't see a role for us to be involved in," said Bob LeDrew.
A specialist in globalization and the economics of developing countries, Mr. Chossudovsky, 59, has a reputation for producing radical critiques often out of step with the views of his colleagues. Since 1968, when he left his native Switzerland to take a position at the U of O, Mr. Chossudovsky has produced research that keeps him on the margins of mainstream academia, but wins praise from anti-establishment intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky.
While he is rarely quoted in mainstream academic journals, Mr. Chossudovsky is a popular figure among anti-globalization activists, and is widely quoted in newspapers. He writes regularly for the French-language monthly Le Monde diplomatique, and his books, published by a small printing house in Britain, have been translated into 11 languages.
Students who take his courses rave about his unorthodox views, going so far as to dub him "Canada's Chomsky."
More recently, Mr. Chossudovsky's research has turned his attention to terrorism. He has written articles accusing the U.S. of plotting to conquer the world with Britain and Israel, and suggesting Osama bin Laden is a CIA asset.
A forthcoming book entitled America's "War on Terrorism" In the Wake of 9/11 is described on globalresearch.ca as an expose that "blows away the smokescreen, put up by the mainstream media, that 9/11 was an 'intelligence failure.' "
But even sympathetic colleagues familiar with his work admit they are uncomfortable with many of his ideas.
"Among people who work on terrorism, there certainly is not much that resembles his work," said Michael Dartnell, a political scientist at York University. "The thing that disturbs me about what he's doing is there is a conspiratorial element to it. And I can't prove or disprove it."
Nonetheless, added Mr. Dartnell, Mr. Chossudovsky's ideas reflect a public sentiment that is suspicious of the motives of government.
"He wants, probably for very sincere reasons, to formulate a substantive critique of what the U.S. government is doing. I'm just not really clear that he's successful in doing that."
© The Ottawa Citizen 2005