It has recently been reported by The Guardian that Saudi Arabia has taken serious steps to influence the information available at Wikipedia. The investigations began after two volunteers at Wikipedia were put in jail for “swaying public opinion” and “violating public morals.”

Since then Saudi Arabia seems to have stepped up their efforts to influence the public view. An internal investigation at Wikimedia showed that all of their administrators in the country were government agents. Since Wikipedia relies on their volunteers to maintain the information on the site, they have had to create a structure of trust to ensure the quality of the information. The Saudi Arabian agents had managed to raise to the level of administrators, whom are authorized to edit or delete contents, as well as blocking lower level users edits from being published.

This got me thinking, if one regime has infiltrated Wikipedia, are they the only one? Most likely not. And if countries are doing it on a wide scale, is it possible that other organisations are doing the same with a more limited scope.

This might be an interesting area for further research by someone more qualified than a cybersecurity engineer. However, as a layman I would think that this is quite common. When we have an open set of knowledge people in power will try to control it. So the next question becomes how successful are they? For now we have to keep in mind that we should be critical of all sources, and try to use several of them to validate. Do they all agree? Whom is behind the information?

There is still a place for Wikipedia, and due to the many eyes that continuously review the data I will keep it as one of my go to sources. I believe that the many will keep the information true, and that this incident has opened the eyes of both Wikimedia and the free press to in the future hold leaders accountable for dirty influences.

In the end, I hope that we can continue to protect the individuals that share their knowledge on the web, regardless if they are journalists, volunteers or something else. We should continue to aspire to share knowledge and insights to further the discussions and make the world a better place.