Wikipedia Admins Censor Name of Alleged Ukraine ‘Whistleblower’

Turkish officials say Wikipedia failed to remove content deemed to be false from its pages
AFP/Lionel Bonaventure

As reports circulated identifying Eric Ciaramella as the alleged “whistleblower” driving efforts to impeach President Donald Trump, Wikipedia editors attempted to mention him in articles on the site. However, Wikipedia admins used their advanced privileges to delete records of his name, block creation of pages on Ciaramella, and even banned his name completely.

After Donald Trump Jr. and numerous others on social media discussed media coverage naming the alleged whistleblower as CIA analyst Eric Ciaramella, Wikipedia editors began trying to add the name to the Trump-Ukraine controversy article. Page logs show the information has been repeatedly removed and revisions containing the name deleted as “Grossly insulting, degrading, or offensive material” by left-wing admins. Those adding the name were threatened with bans.

Prior to Trump Jr. sharing Ciaramella’s name, editors also attempted to add him to the whistleblower page, but those edits were labeled “vandalism” and removed. Editors also attempted to draft a page on Ciaramella noting him as the alleged whistleblower. The drafts were deleted as “attack pages” even when previews suggest the page was neutral. Administrator “Drmies” a.k.a. Michel Aaij used his privileges to block editors from recreating the Ciaramella page. When editor “Wumbolo” challenged these actions, he was banned and administrators created a filter to prevent anyone from even mentioning the alleged whistleblower’s name.

Left-wing editors argued against including Ciaramella’s name over a lack of “reliable sources” mentioning it. Sources such as RealClearInvestigations and others were cited, but editors often dismiss conservative sources as “unreliable” on Wikipedia. During discussion about mentioning the alleged whistleblower’s identity, editors argued Washington Examiner was not a reliable source when an editor noted the outlet repeatedly mentioned Ciaramella. One argument cited a policy suggesting if a name is not “widely disseminated or has been intentionally concealed” it is preferable to exclude it. Editors interpret such dissemination as needing to be in “reliable sources” as well.

However, sources considered reliable on Wikipedia, the Dallas Morning News and Ukrainian state-owned UNIAN, also reported the alleged whistleblower’s name. Additionally, despite attempts to block creation of a page on Ciaramella, prior coverage in sources considered reliable on Wikipedia concerning allegations he leaked classified details of Trump meeting with Russian diplomats would, together with coverage of him as the alleged whistleblower, mean he passes the site’s “notabilitythreshold for an article.

Despite claiming an interest in protecting the whistleblower’s identity, editors mentioned the author of the RCI piece who identified Ciaramella as the alleged whistleblower in order to discredit the author, making the article identifying Ciaramella easy to find.

Censoring of Ciaramella’s name on Wikipedia comes after similar censorship at Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, as well as repeated efforts to slant Wikipedia’s articles on the Ukraine controversy and impeachment inquiry against Trump. Previously, editors censored criticism of the Russia investigation, spun Special Counsel Robert Mueller debunking Russian “collusion” claims, and smeared outlets reporting improprieties in the investigation.

T. D. Adler edited Wikipedia as The Devil’s Advocate. He was banned after privately reporting conflict of interest editing by one of the site’s administrators. Due to previous witch-hunts led by mainstream Wikipedians against their critics, Adler writes under an alias.


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