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No, Wikipedia is Not Colluding with DHS
Wikipedians are not controlled by Uncle Sam.
Shortly after Elon Musk gained control of Twitter on Oct. 27, the mysterious-sounding hashtag #DHSLeaks began trending on the platform.“#DHSLeaks changes everything Now we know who was behind the algorithm, trending, Wikipedia, and search results all along It was feds,” tweeted Jack Posobiec, an alt-right political activist. Supporters of the conspiracy theory pointed to a story from the Intercept suggesting that the Department of Homeland Security was secretly pressuring Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, and other platforms to review or remove certain content.
But is there any substance to the claim that the feds have been deciding what information should be published on Wikipedia and other sites? There is not. As Techdirt’s Mike Masnick rightfully argued, the Intercept’s story about the U.S. government arbitrating disinformation on tech platforms Wikipedia is “absolute garbage” and “bullshit reporting.”
I’ll add one more criticism to the list: The false framing is insulting, especially to the volunteer Wikipedia editors who do the hard work of curating reliable information for the site. Because the Wikipedians are not controlled by Uncle Sam.
To understand how the #DHSLeaks conspiracy theory came about, it’s worth reviewing the history. In 2018, President Donald Trump signed the bill creating the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency as a separate agency within DHS. CISA’s mission is to lead cybersecurity and critical infrastructure security programs, operations, and associated policy. (DHS previously had an internal program called the National Protection and Programs Directorate with these responsibilities; the creation of CISA promoted this function to a standalone federal agency at the same level as the U.S. Secret Service or FEMA.)
In the Intercept’s version of events, DHS met with private tech platforms “behind closed doors” using the full power of the U.S. government to “try to shape online discourse.”
Dream AI’s artistic interpretation of my latest article for Slate.