Wikipedia or new propaganda? Propaganda : Action exerted on the opinion to bring it to have certain political and social ideas, to support a policy, a government, a representative. (Petit Robert)…

You probably won’t learn anything if I tell you that Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia written by Internet users, is a huge success. With more than 13 million articles available in 260 languages ​​and 350 million visitors per month, the wiki is well established in the “Top 10” of the most popular sites in the world … Alexa.com estimates that one in 10 Internet users use Wikipedia, that is to say.

If you read Synaptic’s blog for example, you won’t be surprised to learn that the content of the encyclopedia is a real strategic issue for the reputation of many companies and politicians.

We already talked about this shape “Directed communication” exercised by the New York Times so as not to harm journalist David Rohde then a prisoner of the Afghan Taliban or of this Irish student who deceived the international press with a quote falsely attributed to Maurice Jarre.

A few minutes of search with Google will find many examples of modified “sensitive” content for example by the Vatican, the Church of Scientology, the Bush administrations (father and son), etc. See also the Wikipedia observatory.

Most of the known examples relate to “big cases” or to subjects mainly concerning the United States, but the journalist Jean-Marc Manach reveals that the “redaction” of Wikipedia (1) is also applied to subjects much more trivial and close to us.

This is how we learn that in this month of August, the Elysée Palace and the French Ministry of the Interior tried to manipulate Wikipedia to protect the reputation of Alain Marleix, Secretary of State for the Interior in England.

Even stronger and still in England, we learn that the Ministry of Culture has been banned from the online encyclopedia following repeated modifications to the page devoted to “marriage in the Christian tradition” from the computers of this ministry. The list of redactions does not stop there and is even quite surprising.

Also read another source regarding pharmaceutical industry communication on Wikipedia : , as well as Wikivala?, a repertory repeating the identified attempts of redaction, an initiative of Jean-Marc Manach.

Fortunately, the Wikimedia Foundation – the parent company of Wikipedia – is not without reaction. The “anti-redaction” weapon is called Salebot, a “bot” that tracks vandalism on Wikipedia and that revokes more than 6,000 changes per month. More recently, the ” controlled overhaul Was introduced to for the biographies of people still alive. From now on, the modifications must first be manually checked and accepted by an experienced (voluntary) editor. The Internet community also monitors and we are sometimes surprised at the zeal and speed of some users to correct an article.

At first glance, attempts to manipulate Wikipedia could make you smile. A fan of Bernadette Chirac who desperately seeks to give him the title of undue nobility should not cause much emotion.

However, what difference is there between erase a journalist’s professional error like PPDA and ignoring the pretext of weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2001?

Any. In both cases, it is neither more nor less than revisionism …

Revisionism is all the more dangerous and worrying because it discretely attacks all areas and “little facts” for which there are not always other sources to corroborate information (2).

Whether for the worst or the best, Wikipedia has become a major source of information for students , or even for the journalists . And starting from this observation, it is more than ever necessary to know how to apply a minimum of historical methodology.

The adage “it must be true, I saw it on TV” has become “it must be true, I read it on Wikipedia”.

However, let’s hope that it will take less time to realize that the web also knows the staging, the scripting and the special effects …

(1) (Neologism) operation consisting in removing certain passages from a written text, which are considered to be annoying, compromising or immoral on the order of any censorship.

(2) We should rather say for which we don’t always take the time to find other sources.