Despite how much we all love it, Wikipedia is not a credible source. That’s because any one can edit content at any time, adding in falsehoods that can sit there until, well, someone notices.
Case in point: a page dedicated to the bibliography of Hillary Clinton redirected to Adolf Hilter’s autobiography Mein Kampf on Monday for over 16 hours.
According to the edit history, the page was edited to redirect at 6:26 a.m. UTC, which is 2:26 a.m. ET. When you edit a Wikipedia entry, your IP address is logged and is publicly facing. We plugged that address into a tool that provides clues about who’s behind the IP, including details about their Internet Service Provider.
Looking up the IP address, the editor of the post was using Comcast’s internet service, somewhere near Mount Laurel, New Jersey when they made the changes. Looks like someone had a late night messing with Clinton’s bibliography.
While problematic for Wikipedia and services that rely on its users for policing, this is sadly nothing new for the internet or the encyclopedia. Anyone can edit a Wikipedia article they want at any time, and the site depends on ethical people to correct those false edits to show accurate and up-to-date information. Trolling on Wikipedia isn’t uncommon, though calling Clinton Hitler is a lot worse than editing the invertebrate page to include Paul Ryan.
In a time where “fake news” is a household phrase, and popular opinion — not facts —can sway elections and the stock exchange, it’s incredibly important that accurate information be out there on a site such as Wikipedia, even if this was just an unfunny and weak attempt at trolling.
To be fair to Wikipedia, this was not the Clinton’s main page, but a sub page for books that she has penned located way at the bottom of her extremely extensive entry. Additionally, the bibliography page hasn’t been edited in nearly a month.
It’s unclear how often Clinton’s page gets trolled, but it’s indeed low-hanging fruit given Wikipedia’s editing free-for-all. Wikipedia, which is monitored by tens of thousands of volunteer editors, has yet to respond to inquiries about the edit.
While Wikipedia is a massive site that gets a TON of readers every day, we could only find one tweet in reference to the edit.
At 6:00 p.m. ET, just minutes after Mashable emailed a request for comment, the edit had been restored by Wikipedia user Gfoley4. According to their bio, they spend their time “on Wikipedia reverting vandalism, reviewing AFC submissions, and working on transit-related articles.”