Wikipedia Saw Election Day Traffic Spike on Censored Hunter Biden Page

Biden
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Page view statistics on Wikipedia indicated that on the day of the U.S. Presidential election, which hinges on mere thousands of votes in key states, the page on Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden saw an additional 66,000 views for 110,000 views total. Readers of the page would see allegations of him having corrupt foreign business dealings called “debunked conspiracy theories” and, due to editors censoring the page, find no mention of recent New York Post bombhells on apparent Biden e-mails lending credence to corruption allegations.

The similarly censored Wikipedia page for Joe Biden saw an Election Day spike of 360,000 views, while the negatively slanted page on President Donald Trump saw 150,000 additional views that day. Such traffic in a marginal election outcome shows the potential electoral impact of Wikipedia’s left-wing bias, a bias which earlier this year caused its co-founder to declare the death of the site’s “neutrality” policy.

A tool gauging traffic on Hunter Biden’s page on Wikipedia shows that on November 3, 2020, the article on Biden received a little over 110,000 views. This was an uptick from around 44,000 views the previous day, for a total increase of about 66,000 views. While the traffic counter does not identify the source of traffic to determine if viewers were coming from a particular area, the spike in views alone is well in excess of the margins in several key states.

Before Election Day, similar spikes were only seen following significant developments with Biden, such as the initial New York Post reporting on the allegations when traffic spiked by nearly 80,000 views. Following the final Presidential debate where the corruption allegations figured prominently, there was a traffic spike of nearly the same size as Election Day. Viewing traffic remained high for most of the last weeks of the campaign after the Post‘s reporting with the day before the election being its lowest point.

If these tens of thousands of readers were looking to the page to determine whether to vote for Hunter Biden’s father, the former Vice President, then they would likely come away with an initial impression favoring a vote for the Democrat. The introduction to Hunter Biden’s page at the time described the corruption allegations against him and the Biden family as “debunked conspiracy theories” propagated by President Trump. More significantly, the page contains no mention of the Post’s reporting casting doubt on Biden family denials about the allegations or subsequent confirmations of that reporting by other outlets.

Editors on Wikipedia actively censored the Post’s reporting from many pages relating to the allegations, including on Biden’s page. Initial discussion on including the allegations claimed the Post was “unreliable” and suggested the laptop reportedly containing the e-mails was fabricated. Guy Chapman, an administrator with special privileges on the site who previously called for banning Trump supporters from Wikipedia, baselessly suggesting the e-mails originated with Russian intelligence. Later attempts to mention it were removed as editors dismissed the story’s credibility. Removing description of the allegations as “conspiracy theories” on Biden’s page has also been repeatedly rejected with editors invoking baseless claims of Russian involvement.

Wikipedia’s page on Joe Biden also saw a significant uptick in views on Election Day. On that day, former Vice President Biden’s page received over 360,000 additional views with around 576,000 total views coming off smaller spikes in the two preceding days from an end of October count of nearly 118,000 views.  His largely positive page has also been censored of the Post‘s reporting as Chapman closed down one discussion on mentioning the allegations suggesting they were part of “a standard Kremlin disinformation operation.” No mention of related allegations was included on the page save two paragraphs buried in the article claiming no evidence of wrongdoing.

President Trump’s page saw an Election Day traffic spike of about 150,000 views to nearly 300,000. Unlike Biden’s page, Trump’s was heavily slanted against him at the time with the introduction characterizing him as “racist” and as making “many false or misleading statements” along with other attacks. On the coronavirus pandemic, a potentially decisive election issue, the introduction makes no mention of his fast-tracking of treatments, early travel ban on China, or stimulus packages fueling a record-setting economic recovery, but instead is wholly negative on his response. The introduction also uncritically repeats Democrat spin on the Russia collusion and impeachment allegations, which have been part of repeated Wikipedia smear campaigns against the President.

A major reason for this bias in coverage, with pages on the Bidens largely defensive and censored and Trump’s heavily negative, is editors invoking Wikipedia’s policies on “verifiability” to purge conservative media. The Post was declared unreliable by editors in September, a month before its Hunter Biden reporting, and Fox News was discouraged as a source for politically contentious material in July. Both Fox and the Daily Caller, banned from use as a source last year, corroborated the Post’s reporting. However, these rulings against all three outlets meant the reporting and corroboration of it were kept out of every article. Reporting from Sinclair that Hunter Biden was the subject of an FBI money-laundering investigation was similarly suppressed.

By contrast, Wikipedia is heavily reliant on left-wing media as they have deemed them “reliable sources” and even shut down discussions formally challenging them within a day of what is normally a month-long discussion in one case. Analyses have shown the top news sources on Wikipedia are left-wing outlets, such as the Guardian, and that most news outlets cited on articles about American politicians exhibit a left-wing bias. Whether due to the purging of conservative media or administrative bias, editors with right-leaning views have been shown by one analysis to be six times more likely to be sanctioned and thus diminishing their participation in article discussions.

One example of administrative bias is Muboshgu, an administrator who locked pages relating to the Biden corruption allegations to keep in material attacking the allegations and threatened editors presenting them as credible. Muboshgu dismissed the allegations as “Russian disinformation” shortly after the Post story broke. This put him in conflict with Wikipedia policies prohibiting administrators using their privileges to favor their side in a dispute. Muboshgu also created a “Russian interference in the 2020 elections” article citing speculation of interference and suggesting Trump’s complicity. The Post’s story was later placed there by another administrator. Only two days before the election, following thousands of page views, was it noted that no evidence supports claims of Russian involvement.

Studies found Wikipedia can have significant influence on human behavior. A 2019 study determined expanding Wikipedia pages on Spanish cities could increase hotel stays by as much as 33 percent. In 2013, a study found adding content to articles on companies could reduce negative investor sentiment. Regarding elections, a study on editing about German politicians found reason to examine Wikipedia’s potential impact on voting. Other than direct influence, Wikipedia also can influence readers of media outlets who copy Wikipedia content as media have done in significant degrees with the biased article on the GamerGate anti-corruption movement in gaming. Copying off Wikipedia has even caused media to spread hoaxes, including about Breitbart News.

Big Tech has also relied on Wikipedia with their censorship campaigns often dove-tailing. In addition to censoring Hunter Biden allegations where Facebook may have reduced reach of the Post’s stories by half and Twitter locking the outlet’s account for over two weeks, Wikipedia and Big Tech also censored the alleged name of the whistleblower behind Trump’s impeachment. One recent Senate report identified the alleged whistleblower as involved in a January 19th, 2016, meeting with Ukrainian prosecutors where the Hill’s John Solomon reported they discussed dropping corruption investigations into Burisma, an energy company where Hunter Biden was a board member, and having the FBI handle the investigation. Big Tech also actively suppressed conservative media, with Google dropping Breitbart traffic to zero for Joe Biden searches.

Mainstream media have praised Wikipedia, including for its handling of political articles in recent months such as their censoring of negative information on House Representative Karen Bass when she was speculated as Biden’s Vice Presidential pick (editors also sanitized the page on ultimate pick Kamala Harris). Praise has focused on the site as a counter to “fake news” in a message pushed by Wikipedia’s owner following advice from a public relations firm run by Head of Communications for the Clinton Foundation. Wikipedia editors favoring the Biden campaign is one example of the left-wing bias at the site its co-founder has criticized with others being editors supporting Antifa and Black Lives Matter.

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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