Melania Trump described as ‘porn star’ in vandalized Wikidata entry for over a week

In a disgusting online attack, First Lady Melania Trump was described as a “former sex worker and porn star” for over a week in June on Wikipedia-affiliated site Wikidata due to vandalism on the site.

Wikipediocracy, a website critical of Wikipedia, reported that Melania Trump was one of several high-profile people around the world who were labeled in misleading and insulting ways. While Trump’s profile vandalism allowed the false description for about nine days, others remained for as long as six weeks to several months before being discovered and fixed.

The description also appeared on other Wikipedia-affiliated sites like Wikimedia Commons and Simple Wikipedia, which is mostly targeted to children. Wikipedia and related sites rely on volunteer editors to catch vandalism.

Unfortunately, Wikipedia is given a lot of credibility by some, and its entries even appear in the Library of Congress despite the lack of standardized editing and fact-checking.

Mistakes abound on Wikimedia sites

In addition to the attack on the first lady, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was described as a “rapist” on the site for months. Various lesser-known actors and actresses were also targeted.

The problem is that the family of Wiki sites rely on volunteer labor to edit entries. Additionally, the organization doesn’t have enough oversight over what gets posted by the volunteers.

The article exposing these inadequacies was posted in September by Wikipediocracy administrator Fram, who was banned by the Wikimedia Foundation in June for a year. The rare action led to an editor revolt at Wikimedia, with one administrator attempting to remove the block on Fram’s account before being stripped of his privileges to do so by the foundation.

And these instances only deal with the English-language versions of Wikipedia and its partner sites. On sites in other languages, oversight is even rarer, and vandalism can persist for years. For example, on the native South American Mapuche language site, country singer Billy Ray Cyrus was described as a “porn actress” from 2015 until after Fram’s article was published, according to Breitbart News.

Rampant political bias

Wikimedia sites have long been known for their political bias against conservatives. Harvard Business Review pointed out that Wikipedia entries are more left-leaning than Encyclopedia Britannica articles, although it contends that the most heavily edited articles are more neutral than others.

This observation gives credence to Fram and other critics’ contentions that there aren’t enough editors and administrators on Wikimedia sites to make them truly accurate and fix errors like the one that happened regarding Melania Trump’s entry.

While crowdsourced and AI-enhanced information sources are thought to be more accurate than others that don’t rely on these techniques, accuracy seems to depend on how they are implemented and the amount of oversight given.

Banning liberal pranksters doesn’t hurt either, especially in cases where an outlier has the power to change an entire entry, at least temporarily, to reflect their bias against and dislike for an individual.

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