Just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke in Rajya Sabha, a disturbing fact came to the fore. Wikipedia was up to its shenanigans again. Akhilesh Mishra, the CEO of Bluekraft Digital Foundation took to Twitter to expose a problematic edit to the Wikipedia page of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Shocking editing done by Wikipedia on PM Modi’s page. (the addition of the last line).— Akhilesh Mishra (@amishra77) February 8, 2021
Such pages are locked for editing by general users so obviously done at a controlled level.
No evidence offered. No context. No proof whatsoever, Just assertion by some backroom editors. pic.twitter.com/Wul6D9A9Ap
The last line that Akhilesh Mishra referred to as a problematic edit read, “Described as engineering a political realignment towards right-wing politics, Modi remains a figure of controversy domestically and internationally over his Hindu nationalist beliefs and his alleged role during the 2002 Gujarat riots, cited as evidence of an exclusionary social agenda.[f] Under Modi’s tenure, India has experienced democratic backsliding.[g]“.
What is of specific interest for the purpose of this article, is the addition of the sentence, “Under Modi’s tenure, India has experienced democratic backsliding”.
Upon analysing the edit history of the page, one realises that this particular sentence was last edited by a Wikipedia editor called “Jonmaxras”. According to history, he has ‘linked’ references to the sentence about ‘democratic backsliding under Modi’.
This would essentially mean that the user added certain link backs and references to the claim on the 4th of February.
Jonmaxras is a user who claims that he makes edits about ‘far-Right politics’, specifically in the USA. This claim has been included in his own bio.
That Jonmaxras claims to be interested in US politics of the ‘far-right’, is given credence by one of his edits. He had removed an exception another user had taken about his edits to the page of Gab – a social media platform that was started by Trump supporters after Twitter indulged in widespread suppression of their freedom of expression.
This comment by Jonmaxras was ‘removed’ by him citing ‘harassment’. Essentially, he claimed that the user was who criticising his supposedly motivated edit to the Gab page was ‘harassing’ Jobmaxras by bringing up the criticism.
Interestingly, Jonmaxrus had also cleared his entire talk page, essentially, attempting to remove his entire history of discussions, as if, he had something to hide.
While earlier we could track the IP addresses of editors, that itself seems to have been masked now.
Eventhough there is plenty of evidence that this user is enthusiastic about “far-right politics” and hence, aligns with ANTIFA in the US, the folly of Wikipedia itself is that all edits are made by anonymous individuals and thus, they are often not answerable to the law of the land. Now, if this user is indeed based in the USA, he can just as easily make edits contrary to India’s interests and subvert the law of the land.
The role of Jonmaxrus in this edit is indeed suspicious, however, upon digging further, one realises that this specific edit was a part of the larger plan that came into effect from 24th of December itself.
If one checks the history behind the discussion pertaining to this specific edit, this is what one lands upon:
This segment appears on the ‘talk page’ of the Wikipedia profile of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is an archive of the ‘discussion’ that was undertaken by the editors to figure out whether that sentence should be added to his profile or not.
The survey about whether this particular edit should be displayed on Prime Minister Modi’s page was started by a user Snooganssnoogans way back on 24th December 2020. He even provided references to back his claim about democracy backsliding under PM Modi. Unsurprisingly, all those references were from foreign publications that have shown racial, religious and political bias against India.
If one studies the ‘survey’ closely, where they reached a consensus to add this edit to the page of PM Modi, one sees that it was 7-8 editors who essentially decided that the edit was a ‘neutral’ addition to the profile of the Prime Minister.
It is essential to note that the consensus was built eventually that this sentence about democracy backsliding was an established fact and just something that was being said by his critics. Hence, it was 7-8 editors who independently decided that democracy in India is under threat and that, it is an undisputed fact and not just the opinion of those who are critics of PM Modi. It is also essential to note that all of these editors are completely anonymous and there is simply no way for the average user to truly track them down. These users could be sitting in the USA, Pakistan, Saudi or even prison.
One of the editors, however, does distinctly appear to be from India. Editor Vanamonde93, who agreed that is an undisputed fact, however, wanted to change the terminology from ‘backsliding’ to something far easier to understand has a history of creating pages that specifically targets BJP and Hindus.
For example, in the Godhra Train burning article, which talks about Hindus being burnt alive by Muslims, Vanamonde93 specifically removes edits that mentions the names of the ones convicted for burning Hindus alive.
There are several such edits that expose the bias of user Vanamonde93 and evidence that he may be based out of India, given his large history of Left oriented edits and anti-Hindu stand.
Another user, interestedly, seems to be completely aligned to the left. user Snooganssnoogans, who we spoke about earlier, has been accused of stalking other editors to ensure that their edits are reversed to ensure that readers get a sanitised version of facts for leaders like Barack Obama. It is to be kept in mind that it was this user who started a consensus discussion about whether the edit about democracy backsliding under Modi should be added to his Wikipedia profile.
He is also accused of being unethical and editing as per his own ideological biases.
It is rather evident that this particular edit on Wikipedia is the handiwork of 7-8 anonymous editors who clearly have a pronounced ideological bias. While the suspicion is that one or more of these editors could be based in the USA and one at least seems to be based in India, there is no way to prove their locations at this point in time.
The left-wing bias of the platform is well documented. Wikipedia has been waging a war against OpIndia as well due to ideological reasons. It is not a new claim as even the co-founder of Wikipedia, Larry Sanger has written extensively about the bias in Wikipedia.