tv Full Measure With Sharyl Attkisson ABC August 21, 2016 10:00am-10:30am EDT
over 5 million english articles are on wikipedia, with added daily. 1000 but there's a dark side to wikipedia you probably don't know about. the promise of accurate, neutral articles and privacy for contributors is often just a mirage, according to two insiders. they say they've been left battle-scarred after troubling personal encounters with the world's most popular encyclopedia. we begin today with their story. >> it's billed as the encyclopedia anyone can edit. but for many, it's the opposite. >> just in the past four hours 500 ip addresses and users have been blocked from editing wikipedia. >> greg kohs is among the blocked. banned, he says, for challenging wikipedia policies. more on that in a moment. in 2012, kohs helped start an opposing website called wikipediocracy to expose what he calls wikipedia's misinformation, defamation, and general nonsense. sharyl: so wikipedia does censor users? kohs: absolutely. in a given day, wikipedia administrators typically are blocking about 1,000 different ip addresses. sharyl: 1,000 a day?
. when kohs ran afoul of wikipedia, he was drawn into an unseen cyberworld. one where he says volunteer editors dole out punishment and retaliation, privacy is violated, and special interests control information. sharyl: most people don't know what? kohs: wikipedia is often edited by people who have an agenda. sharyl: to understand how, it helps to start with the wikipedia most know and love. co-founded in 2001 by jimmy wales and larry sanger, wikipedia boasts 37 million-plus articles in 291 languages. research experts like mary frances forcier count on wikipedia. mary i think it's user friendly. : i think it's easy to use. it has a very appealing visual interface, and i do think that having the sources at the bottom of the page is really important. sharyl:
volunteer editors is anonymity and privacy. two readers, unbiased articles. but there were conflicts in this encycu-topia from the start. co-founder sanger quickly broke away. he later told a reporter, "people that i would say are trolls sort of took over. the inmates started running the asylum." kohs says wikipedia's inmates include some volunteer editors with an ax to grind or serious conflicts of interest. kohs: sometimes editors will have very aggressive attitudes about what they want to appear in a wikipedia article . sharyl: they can stop opposing opinions? kohs: exactly, exactly. sharyl: even opposing facts? kohs: often times, yes . sharyl: when volunteer editors disagree, and they often do it , leads to edit wars fought out on wikipedia's talk and
>> there's drama on wikipedia just about every day. you just need to know where to go and look for it. sharyl: edit wars fill thousands of pages deep inside wikipedia with dialogue that ranges from civil to childish and hostile like this argument that kohs reads us. >> he has violated npa which means no personal attacks by telling someone they are inferior and to accept their station in life. he wrote, "i refuse to be blocked. i am not blocked. you can pretend that you block me all you like, but someone who is right can never be blocked. it is impossible." sharyl: in wikipedia's world, the ruling authorities are the hundreds of volunteer editors who've reached the most powerful editing status. they're called administrators known only by , their pseudonyms or user names. they always win the edit wars.
longer you've been making them the more power you're going to have. kohs: yes. sharyl: but what happens when powerful editors improperly control content? >> you'll have different people with a particular scientific point of view and they'll edit and modify wikipedia articles so that its articles kind of reflect that point of view. sharyl: wikipedia has given names to bad behavior malicious editing is vandalism. editing for personal or financial gain is paid or covert editing. wikipedia discourages both but they happen all the time. two trusted wikipedia officials were exposed running businesses that covertly edited wikipedia for pr clients. interests for sony, the cia, the vatican, barack obama and john mccain all reportedly have been caught secretly editing their own wikipedia pages to their advantage. and anonymous wikipedia editors maintain a stranglehold on selected topics. kohs demonstrates with the case of morgellons. the mayo clinic calls it an unexplained skin disorder characterized by sores. but the wikipedia page dismisses morgellons as a delusional belief. >> so i'm just going to make a little comment here.
when kohs adds a research footnote that differs with that narrative. kohs: they can just go to this link and you get the abstract of the study right there. sharyl: in less than an hour, kohs' edit disappears. kohs: i see that our edit to morgellons was reverted after about 38 minutes or so. sharyl: it was reverted by an administrator who is anonymous but for his user name. if you know where to look it's possible to see the many wikipedia topics the same editor worked hard to control. >> it seems to me that this is someone who is either involved with the medical profession or the pharmaceutical profession, they probably have an agenda to discredit or to suppress alternative medicines, things of that nature. sharyl: one study found mistakes in nine out of ten wikipedia medical entries. millions of dollars can depend on how an idea or product is portrayed within these computer pages. that may be why wikipedia editors reportedly linked to the pharmaceutical company astrazeneca got caught posting negative material on
competitors pages and adding , promotional material to their own. kohs sees himself as an equalizer. his business helps clients, including supposed victims of unfair edits, navigate wikipedia's unbridled landscape. wikipedia banned him for violating the policy against paid editing. and when kohs criticized the policy and continued under a borrowed account wikipedia , editors targeted him. they went to great lengths to track him, using inside information and computer addresses. they researched where kohs grew up, and traced his movements all the way to orlando, florida, where he was making edits while on vacation. sharyl: wikipedia editors that you didn't know at the time were tracking your movements and speculating that you went home for thanksgiving? kohs: that's absolutely correct. sharyl: he only discovered that he was being tracked because somebody leaked these internal wikipedia discussions about him. quick with
what and then somebody chimed in, 'looks like someone went home for thanksgiving to visit mom and dad' so you think you're editing with some degree of privacy but if they want to they can really start to investigate. sharyl: wales has publicly feuded with kohs over the paid editing policy, but declined our interview requests. wikimedia foundation, the nonprofit that runs wikipedia, and the wikipedia editors we asked also offered no comment for this report. another paid editor, mike wood, says his confrontation with wikipedia was life changing. like kohs, wood publicly criticized wikipedia's policies on editing for pay, which he did while on breaks as a casino inspector, until one day when his boss called him in for a meeting. >> he says, we received an email and a phone call from the wikimedia foundation, telling us that you are using our servers to edit wikipedia. he said wikipedia meaning the wikimedia foundation, put a hard
block on our servers, so now no one is allowed to access wikipedia from our job site. sharyl: that was enough to get wood fired. >> it was a huge violation of privacy. they put so much pressure on my employer by blocking access to wikipedia, by telling them what was going on, just the embarrassment, the potential embarrassment alone of what the wikimedia foundation pressured my employer with was enough for the employer to terminate me. sharyl: despite the controversies, wikipedia has many devoted followers. forcier is with the loudoun county public library in virginia. she says wikipedia is a valuable research tool when used properly. >> it's accessible it's in language everyone understands and it does provide you the kind of source information that can lead you to scholarly works, encyclopedias, reference works and primary sources that can really help you out. sharyl:
visit the world's most popular encyclopedia, you may want to consider some advice you won't find within its pages. >> when you read wikipedia you have to be aware that the people who are writing it who don't identify themselves who don't necessarily have any credentials to be writing in the subject matter that they've chosen to write in are very often pushing , an agenda. >> there is no privacy. if they want to know who you are, where you are editing from, they have that, and they can check it and they will. do not step in front of the train, because they will run you over. sharyl: kohs and wood still edit wikipedia for paid clients. and here's an inside tip. on any wikipedia page, if you want to see what an editor has removed, you can click the tab that says, view history and see for yourself. sometimes, the most interesting material is what's been deleted by those guarding the page. wikimedia has indicated it makes an effort to prevent biased articles and, when a page is disputed, sometimes editors insert warning notices to alert re
"so, how can i check my credit score?" "credit karma. don't worry, it's free." "hmmmm." "credit karma. give yourself some credit." sharyl: halfway around the world there's big interest over a group of small islands. china is refusing to recognize an international court ruling against its sovereignty claims in the south china sea. that's of concern to five other naon
territory in the waterway - including u.s. ally the philippines. more than a third of worldwide maritime traffic flows thorough this region, making it a crucial passage for trillions of dollars in commerce annually. scott thuman examines the dangers of the green lagoon. >> only a few years ago, these little reefs and sand cays in the spratly islands, off the coast of the philippines and south vietnam, were largely uninhabited, wanted only as fertile fishing grounds. today, they are converted to military outposts equipped with runways and sophisticated radar towers. >> china's intent to militarize the south china sea is as certain as a traffic jam in d.c. >> admiral harry harris jr, is head of the us pacific command, he came to capitol hill, to raise concerns about china's intent. admiral harris: in my opinion, china is clearly militarizing the south china sea and you'd
earth to think otherwise. greg poling: you're seeing an entirely new island, where nothing existed before. scott greg poling runs the asia : maritime transparency initiative, they commission satellite photos to monitor china's activities. >> we have at least two radars under construction, a heli-pad. scott these photos, as recent as : february, show china's construction continuing at a breakneck speed. chinese president xi jingping on u.s. triedsit to the to frame the photos differently, claiming china does not intend to pursue militarization. >> you build barracks, you build a harbor, you build an airstrip, all you have to do is fly in overnight and it's, and you have a base. scott rear admiral mike mcdevitt : knows the south china sea, and the spratly islands. now retired, he did seven tours in the pacific, including at the command of a destroyer squadron . last september when china's
and he said that china did not intend to pursue militarization. is that a lie? >> clearly his definition of militarization is different than for example admiral harris's definition of militarization. scott: the south china sea is home to the busiest shipping corridor in the world. 5 trillion dollars worth of goods pass through every year. how alarming is it to you? admiral mcdevitt: i would use the term disappointing in many ways, that china has in so many different ways chosen to play fast and loose with the law of the sea. is this a litmus test -- of the sea. scott: although the international law of the sea permits free passage of ships and planes, the chinese are already beginning to push back. last may, the u.s. navy's p-8 poseidon patrolled the area. and received this warning. this is the chinese navy, chinese
quickly. senator mccain chairman of the armed services committee. he said the obama administration's policies have failed when it comes to china's militarization of the south china sea. do you agree with that? admiral mcdevitt: and so what would senator mccain have preferred we do? shoot them up? think those ships? blow up those dredges? i mean, come on. scott: mcdevitt says the rise of china's navy is inevitable, and right around the corner. admiral mcdevitt: so they're going to have the range of capability just like the us will have except it will be smaller. but because the rest of world's navies have gotten smaller, it will be the second most capable navy in the world. scott: last month, president obama called for china to stop the construction. president obama: i reiterated the us will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, and we will support the right of all countries to do the same. scott mcdevitt is confident that : china's bluster won't
ongoing patrols of the area. admiral mcdevitt: there's only one way china can prevent us from doing that and that's if they try to use force and shoot at us and try to attack us. in short of that, we can go where we damn well please, but where international law permits. scott: do you think that's a realistic scenario, that that would ever occur? mcdevitt: i don't think so. no. china's not stupid. they're not going to, why would they want to start a, a conflict with a nuclear armed united states. sharyl: that was scott thuman reporting. still ahead on full me
sharyl: fallout continues over the april release of more than eleven million documents dubbed the panama papers. it was an unprecedented leak that exposed how wealthy individuals use anonymous offshore entities to hide their assets. a whistleblower obtained the documents from one of the biggest offshore law firms in the world based in
the group that broke the story is the washington based international consortium of investigative journalists. we talked to its director gerard ryle and started by asking what, exactly are the panama papers? gerard ryle: what they are, basically, is a day-by-day, blow-by-blow account of the offshore world. i mean we're looking at everyone , from prime ministers, kings, emirs, presidents around the world, but also drugs dealers, people that have been convicted for various crimes, including pedophilia. so what they are, are basically people who use offshore accounts for secrecy. sharyl: what is the benefit to them of, as you say, using offshore accounts? ryle: well there are many benefits. it could be, for instance, tax evasion or it could be to hide their wealth. but often it's actually sometimes it's also to commit a crime. sharyl: but the offshore accounts in and of themselves aren't necessarily illegal. ryle: well it's a ve
it's, if you go offshore, it's perfectly legal to do what you're doing, assuming you've told authorities. but where you have secrecy, you also have the potential for wrongdoing. what we're seeing here is both secrecy and, and actual wrongdoing. sharyl: who are some of the world leaders who have been implicated and what's been the fallout so far? ryle: well we've seen associates, very close associates of vladimir putin from russia. we've got the prime minister of iceland. and we have president poroshenko in ukraine, um, so is, there is a range of different leaders that are, the king of saudi arabia among others. sharyl: this could even shake up governments as it has in iceland already. ryle: yeah, we had fallout almost immediately from the story. i mean the prime minister of , iceland became under, came under an awful lot of pressure. because we revealed that he had an offshore account when he entered parliament and he didn't declare that. and he has since had to resign as a result of the, of this investigation.
head of transparency international in chile had to resign when it was revealed that he had five offshore accounts. why would just the revelation of offshore accounts by these government officials be so controversial in those countries? ryle: well again, having an offshore account by itself is not illegal, but if you haven't declared it and you are a parliamentarian, then of course it's going to be an issue. and in iceland, it was a major issue because this offshore company had held millions of dollars in bank bonds. and this prime minister was elected to sort out the collapse of a financial system in iceland, so he was sorting out the banks that had collapsed while he had owned bonds in those banks. sharyl: because there are no american politician names that have been found so far, does that mean american politicians don't use offshore accounts? ryle: i think what we're seeing here is just a particular subset of information. mossack fonseca is one of the biggest um, setter ups of offshore accounts in the world. but it is only one of about 800 other firms that do this around the world. so what we're seeing here is just one subset of data. sharyl: the panamanian law firm involved rea
saying, while we may have been the victim of a data breach, nothing in this illegally obtained cache of documents suggest we've done anything wrong or illegal. are they correct? ryle: no, i think that they have done things wrong. you see actual evidence that they're helping people avoid taxes around the world. but i think what's most surprising about this all, is that the law firm in panama did not know who the end customer was often. they, as far as they were concerned, their customers were the big banks and the big accountancy firms and big law firms. and they didn't care who the actual end client was. they didn't do any due diligence. sharyl: and in the big picture, what have we learned from this? ryle: i think what we're learning from this is that the range of people that use offshore accounts. they're actually the world's elite. and we're also learning that every time governments crack down on this kind of wrongdoing, the offshore world finds a way of getting around it. these people are just finding more and more clever ways of getting around the law. sharyl: when asked about the growing scandal the founder of , the law firm, jurgen mossack,
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such a thing as a free lunch, and it may be costing you. a study in the journal of the american medical association dug through data on doctors who accept payments from drug companies and whether it affects their prescribing habits. surely, a cheap meal wouldn't influence a doctor. well, 95% of the payments doctors received were for meals between $12-$18. and those doctors were far more likely to prescribe that company's drugs. 18% more likely to prescribe the statin crestor for cholesterol, 52% more likely to prescribe benicar for high blood pressure and 70% more likely to prescribe the beta blocker bystolic, also for hypertension. the more meals, the more likely doctors were to prescribe the promoted drug. coming up next week on full measure a federal research study , on extremely premature babies raises questions about using humans for experiments, especially the defenseless. even their own parents say they had no idea about the dangers. your thought was, when you signed the papers, that what was going to
given the best care possible and that even with his prematurity being as extreme as it was, that it would be okay because i had all of this help. sharyl: we take a look at the informed consent next week. also, you have seen the u.s. southern border from above ground, but have you seen what lies underneath? we take a look at tunnels used by smugglers to traffic drugs and humans. june into full measure next week for those stories. that's all for this week. thank you for spending part of your sunday with us. like us on facebook to share your feedback. until next time, we'll be searching for more stories that hold powers accountable.
weekend edition of "government matters" featuring the latest topics that matter to the business of government like technology, defense, workforce, security, and industry. "government matters" is the only show exploring trends in the federal community. i'm your host, francis rose. the general services administration and the office of management and budget are rolling out a playbook to serve as a guide for agencies moving to shared services. that play book lists six phases of development for migrating