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The ‘red guard’ IT cell- Wikipedia vandalism

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In 1960s PRC witnessed the controversial ‘Cultural Revolution’ under the leadership of then chairman of the Communist Party of China Mao Zedong. He organised a student led paramilitary socialist movement named Red Guards. A book titled “China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution: Master Narratives and Post-Mao Counternarratives” mentions a Red Guard leader explaining the objectives of the movement as

Chairman Mao has defined our future as an 

armed revolutionary youth organization…So if Chairman Mao is our Red-Commander-in-Chief and we are his Red Guards, who can stop us? First we will make China Maoist from inside out and then we will help the working people of other countries make the world red…And then the whole universe

Mao Zedong has died but this communist spirit is still alive within the minds of modern ‘Red Guards’ or ‘Urban Maoist’. An essential component of the Red Guard agenda was the destruction of Four Olds which were Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Ideas. Maoist in India have targeted any ideologically different person under this ‘Four Olds vandalism agenda’ since many decades especially the Right Wingers and the followers of Hindutva. In past six years these red guards have specifically targeted their ideological opponents on the Internet. This article will talk about and investigate this ‘e-vandalism’ on Wikipedia.

Red Guards have targeted several journalist, media houses and news-portals including OpIndia on Wikipedia. A prejudicial language with loaded terminologies and disputable sources cited are fundamental characteristics of these pages which have been clearly written for peddling a propaganda.

THE OPINDIA PAGE: DISMANTLING THE PROPAGANDA

The introduction reads

OpIndia is an Indian news portal which claims to be a fact-checking website. It is ideologically oriented towards right-wing populism and has propagated fake news over multiple occasions.

Under the sub-heading ‘Content and Reception’ it further continues

AltNews has documented the site to be a significant purveyor of fake news, in India.

A January 2020 report by the media watchdog Newslaundry noted the portal to contain several inflammatory headlines selectively targeting the leftists, liberals and Muslims.Islamophobia was noted to be a dominant theme, achieved either by selective manipulation or outright faking. The political opposition (esp. Indian National Congress) and mainstream media was a favorite target of their vitriol; posts published by OpIndia Hindi from November 15 to 29 were located to be invariably situated against any criticism of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. Most of the pieces contained brazenly abusive commentary on the subjects.

This doesn’t stop here. In the references one can easily find that the author of this page cites the following:

Points to be noted:

The Wikipedia NPOV policy page states the following :

  • Avoid stating opinions as facts: Usually, articles will contain information about the significant opinions that have been expressed about their subjects. However, these opinions should not be stated in Wikipedia’s voice. Rather, they should be attributed in the text to particular sources, or where justified, described as widespread views, etc. For example, an article should not state that “genocide is an evil action”, but it may state that “genocide has been described by John So-and-so as the epitome of human evil.”
  • Avoid stating seriously contested assertions as facts. If different reliable sources make conflicting assertions about a matter, treat these assertions as opinions rather than facts, and do not present them as direct statements
  • Avoid stating facts as opinions. Uncontested and uncontroversial factual assertions made by reliable sources should normally be directly stated in Wikipedia’s voice. Unless a topic specifically deals with a disagreement over otherwise uncontested information, there is no need for specific attribution for the assertion, although it is helpful to add a reference link to the source in support of verifiability. Further, the passage should not be worded in any way that makes it appear to be contested.
  • Prefer nonjudgmental language. A neutral point of view neither sympathizes with nor disparages its subject (or what reliable sources say about the subject), although this must sometimes be balanced against clarity. Present opinions and conflicting findings in a disinterested tone. Do not editorialize. When editorial bias towards one particular point of view can be detected the article needs to be fixed.
  • Indicate the relative prominence of opposing views. Ensure that the reporting of different views on a subject adequately reflects the relative levels of support for those views, and that it does not give a false impression of parity, or give undue weight to a particular view. For example, to state that “According to Simon Wiesenthal, the Holocaust was a program of extermination of the Jewish people in Germany, but David Irving disputes this analysis” would be to give apparent parity between the supermajority view and a tiny minority view by assigning each to a single activist in the field.

The author clearly violates each of the point mentioned above:

“Opinions as Facts” , “Seriously contested assertions as facts” and “facts as opinion”: 
EXAMPLES: Articles under ‘Sources supporting OpIndia to follow a right wing ideology’ :
  1. Bhushan/TheWire, Sandeep (2017-01-26). “Arnab’s Republic hints at mainstreaming right-wing opinion as a business”Business Standard India. – This article written mainly to target the Journalist Arnab Goswami mentions ‘opindia’ only once as

Goswami’s Republic indicates the mainstreaming of right-wing opinion as a business enterprise. Already, Swarajya and Open magazine – along with sundry portals like OpIndia and PGurus (not to speak of social media trolls) – are trying to carve a space for right-wing opinion-makers in the public sphere.

The use words like ‘trying to carve a space’ from an irrelevant to the context  article illustrates the unsuccessful attempt of the author to state assertions as fact. Also the heavily biased article was resembled a opinion more than a media report.

2. Ananth, Venkat (2019-05-07). “Can fact-checking emerge as big and viable business?”The Economic Times. Retrieved 10 November 2019.  This article was based on the rejection of OpIndia’s IFCN application and talked about the financial angle of fact checking. The first paragraph reads:

In February 2019, a right-leaning news website, OpIndia, applied to be a member of the Poynter Institute’s International Fact Checking Network (IFCN). By early March, that application was rejected by IFCN’s India-based assessor.

The author used this line as a fact in the article. This is ridiculous.

3. The article cites a ‘Sunday read’ opinion in The Mumbai Mirror, A satire in the Print, A biased media opinion in the wire which relies mainly on random tweets and a random book named  ‘I Am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP’s Digital Army’ as facts.

Judgmental language and absence of counter-views

One can clearly see how well the ‘Red Guard’ has used the fabricated language to spread the ‘vandalize the old ideas’ agenda. This article was written to vandalize the image of OpIndia in front of new readers. It also lacked any counter-opinion. OpIndia has already exposed the Newslaundry propaganda on its Youtube channel but those facts and counter views were not endorsed by the author.

EndNote

The chapter of Wikipedia vandalism doesn’t end here. Several prominent journalist like Arnab Goswami, Sudhir Choudhary and Anjana Om Kashyap and media houses like Zee News, Republic TV have also been targeted by these ‘Red Guards’ and they will also be exposed. Wikipedia Vandalism in-fact only one of the several ways on which the people with opposing views have targeted on the internet by this IT-Cell. End? The Journey doesn’t end here.

 

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