‘Reputation managers’ get to work scrubbing Clinton-Epstein connection from Wikipedia
Published time: 10 Jul, 2019 00:42
Edited time: 10 Jul, 2019 08:46
© AFP / Stephanie Keith
The internet's unofficial Ministry of Truth has been hard at work trying to memory-hole links between former US President Bill Clinton and financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was recently arrested and charged with sex trafficking.
Epstein’s Wikipedia bio came in for some quick whitewashing, with one editor removing multiple references to Bill Clinton flying on the billionaire’s private jet – nicknamed the Lolita Express – on Sunday morning, after the news of Epstein’s arrest broke. The fact that Clinton had flown on the jet 26 times, despite being well-sourced and not in dispute, was “not relevant to [Epstein’s] personal life,” editor ‘Joeblacko’ complained, calling it “a smear toward bill Clinton.”
An eagle-eyed Wikipedia reader spotted the edit, however, and called in the cavalry with a tweet comparing ‘before’ and ‘after’ versions of the article that was reposted to Reddit’s The_Donald community. By Sunday evening, the material had been re-added by user ‘BD2412,’ who slapped a week-long “protection” on the article, preventing drive-by edits by new and unregistered users.
Clinton’s denial of the “26 flights” number was added to the article on Tuesday night by user ‘Soibangla,’ a known quantity in the American politics topic area, who also tweaked a Clinton quote praising Epstein, noting there was “no evidence [Clinton and Epstein] were ‘friends.’”
Among the other editors making changes to Epstein’s page was the notorious Philip Cross, a mysterious British figure who has edited Wikipedia for 15 years for the equivalent of full-time working hours, with a single-minded dedication to negatively skewing the biographies of antiwar politicians and journalists. Cross was relatively well-behaved in the Epstein article, however, restricting his actions to copy-edits and smoothing out text.
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales even stopped by, to add a citation confirming the fact that Clinton had taken 26 flights on the Lolita Express. Wales has spoken at Clinton Global Initiative events and once called up Hillary Clinton's office to find out how she would prefer to be listed on Wikipedia.
“When the spotlight's off Epstein, the Clinton mentions can be edited out like they should be,” editor Cramyourspam snarked on the article’s talk page, referring to the usual drop-off in editor interest when a subject moves out of the news. “We're an academic/journalistic resource. With that role comes a social responsibility to soil one political side and shine another.”
Google was accused of undertaking its own information warfare on Clinton’s behalf, tweaking its inscrutable algorithm to return photos of Epstein with President Donald Trump when users searched “Jeffrey Epstein Bill Clinton.”
The search results include multiple photos of Epstein and Trump, and the only photos of Epstein and Clinton it yields are split-screens – the two men are never shown in the same photo. A few of the results don’t even include Epstein – just Trump, or Trump and Alex Acosta, the current labor secretary and former federal prosecutor in Florida who let Epstein off with a slap on the wrist when he was convicted of soliciting an underage girl for prostitution in 2008.
Google’s search-tweaking shenanigans are legendary and were confirmed in a video released by Project Veritas last month, which claimed Google’s “Machine Learning Fairness” algorithm was responsible. The algorithm is reportedly designed to replace results that are “factually accurate” but “unjust or prejudicial” – like an image search for CEOs that returns primarily men – with Google’s ideal reality.