Wikipedia Broadcasts a Blood Libel
Breakfast involved a long and very productive discussion of the State Of Hypertext, possible futures, and the Hypertext Automata book. Also the problem of the capture of so much social media by Nazis on the one hand and various intelligence agencies, criminal gangs, and corporate boiler-rooms on the other. Many of the social scientists at the ACM Hypertext Conference are inclined to assume, for example, that each post represents the genuine opinion of a distinct individual; we now know this not true, but we haven’t figured out what to do about it.
My next paper may be titled The Ten Thousand Lies of Twitter and Facebook. We’ll see.
I pointed out to the conference that a blood libel had been openly posted on Wikipedia and had remained untouched there for many hours. It lasted more than 100 hours, outlasted the conference, and in fact I wound up deleting it myself. It's been hours since I wrote them, and Wikipedia's Oversight still hasn't responded.
The passage in question accused a specific Jewish person — a man who was murdered by an criminal mob early in the 20th century — of having “consumed a gentile child. Whether this sort of act is acceptable,” the poster continued, “has been a point of contention for millenia[sic] and will likely continue to be so. It is still as absurd as on day one of the propoganda[sic] effort that jewery[sic] in some dimension imagined they could convince the goyim that raping and strangling their children was something that ought to be abided[sic]. The ADL's founders had the rare moment of hebrew[sic] introspection and grasped that maybe this attitude wasn't ‘good optics.’”
This, friends, is the medieval blood libel — the myth that Jews sacrifice gentile children and drink their blood to celebrate Jewish holidays. As a matter of historical fact, it was originally leveled against Christians (See Pliny the Younger’s Letters X.96), and the Christians later turned it around when they found it convenient to kill a lot of medieval Jews. I’m sorry to say that this old story is new again; perhaps the old hobby is also about to be revived.
People do this on Wikipedia to encourage their friends to do it on Wikipedia, Facebook, *chan, street graffiti, and everywhere else. It’s meant to scare Jews and everyone else this mob dislikes, to persuade them to keep quiet and dissuade them from voting. Wikipedia enjoys the eyeballs and the extra volunteers; presently, it will piously say that a volunteer eventually corrected the problem, and that proves its system works. It does work very well if what you want to do is to normalize hate speech, libel, and blackmail in order to get a few extra eyeballs.
Someone ought to prosecute Wikimedia Foundation principals for abetting hate speech. My prediction: nothing will be done until someone gets killed.
If I were a trustee, I’d certainly want to be absolutely sure that the foundation has an errors and omissions policy sufficient to cover my family’s net worth, along with the net worth of all the other trustees. Given the foundation’s assets and the great wealth of many trustees, that’s a hell of a big policy, but I don’t think a court in, say, Germany is going to let a bunch of billionaires get away with paying a tiny bit of blood money.