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Wikipedia Is Biased against Conservatives — and the Slant Is Infecting AI Models

Posted on Thursday, June 20, 2024
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A new study released on Thursday by a conservative think-tank is giving scholarly credibility to long-held conservative suspicions of bias among Wikipedia editors on entries related to current events.

Wikipedia entries for conservative political figures and organizations do in fact contain more negative attitudes than entries for their liberal counterparts, according to a new Manhattan Institute report released Thursday. This bias could have profound implications for the training of large-language artificial intelligence models, according to the study’s author, David Rozado, a computer scientist who previously researched the apparent left-wing bias of artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT and other large-language models.

“In general, we find that Wikipedia articles tend to associate right-of-center public figures with somewhat more negative sentiment than left-of-center public figures; this trend can be seen in mentions of U.S. presidents, Supreme Court justices, congressmembers, state governors, leaders of Western countries, and prominent U.S.-based journalists and media organizations,” Rozado’s report states.

“We also find prevailing associations of negative emotions (e.g., anger and disgust) with right-leaning public figures and positive emotions (e.g., joy) with left-leaning public figures,” the report adds. 

The terms ‘Donald Trump’ and ‘President Trump’ have the most negative sentiment attached to them of recent presidents. “Barack Obama,” is the most positive, followed by ‘Jimmy Carter’ and ‘President Biden,’ the study found.

Most of the entries for senators contain positive sentiments, though entries for roughly a dozen Republicans and just one Democrat contain negative sentiments. 

Among the House lawmakers, a noticeable portion of the entries for Republicans and just a couple of entries for Democrats contain negative sentiments. As the data goes in a more positive direction, the red fades out and blue dominates the House sentiment chart, reflecting left-wing bias.

The political bias is similarly noticeable with recent Supreme Court justices. The terms “Brett Kavanaugh,” “Amy Coney Barrett,”  and “Justice Alito” are all associated with negative sentiments.The entry for deceased liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has overwhelmingly positive sentiment, the most of any recent justice. Progressive justices Ketanji Brown Jackson and Sonia Sotomayor have the second and third highest positive sentiments, respectively.

Rozado’s study also found a similar bias in entries for U.S. media organizations and think tanks, with liberal organizations receiving more favorable treatment.

Some of the political associations embedded in Wikipedia by its millions of volunteer editors have already emerged in artificial-intelligence models developed by OpenAI, according to the report.

“Our results suggest that Wikipedia is not living up to its stated neutral–point–of–view policy. This is concerning because we find evidence of some of Wikipedia’s prevailing sentiment associations for politically aligned public figures also popping up in OpenAI’s language models, which suggests that the political bias that we identify on the site may be percolating into widely used AI systems,” the report warns. 

Wikipedia’s neutral point of view policy is meant to ensure articles are “written with a tone that provides an unbiased, accurate, and proportionate representation of all positions included in the article,” according to the website’s own entry on the topic.

Rozado’s study utilized large-language models to assess the sentiment and emotional tone tied to political terms within Wikipedia articles.

“The goal of this report is to foster awareness and encourage a reevaluation of content standards and policies to safeguard the integrity of the information on Wikipedia being consumed by both human readers and AI systems,” Rozado concludes.

In the intro, Rozado’s report cites a 2012 paper that analyzed 20,000 English-language Wikipedia entries and observed a pro-Democratic party slant. Since 2012, an abundance of opinion polls and academic research have demonstrated a significant increase in American political partisanship, especially with regards to former president Donald Trump.

An example of Wikipedia’s apparent political bias came up when the site rapidly changed its entry on the colonial “Appeal to Heaven” flag after Democrats and their allies in the media attacked the credibility of Justice Samuel Alito because his wife flew the flag outside their beach house as a supposed symbol of the January 6 Capitol riot. 

The flag has been a symbol of freedom since the American founding, and was flown outside San Francisco’s city hall until it was taken down last month when the Alito story became fodder for a prolonged news cycle.

Another example of Wikipedia’s apparent bias took place two years ago when the Biden administration disputed the academic definition of recession to defend its economic record, and Wikipedia edited its page to claim the definition of recession was not universally agreed upon. The site temporarily suspended edits to its page when the recession entry became battlefield terrain for prospective editors. 

Wikipedia’s bias received significant attention earlier this year when NPR hired former Wikimedia Foundation executive director Katherine Maher to be its new CEO. The Wikimedia Foundation is a nonprofit that owns Wikipedia.

Maher’s social-media history indicates that she has a long history of left-wing activism and strongly supported Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Before Maher’s history came under scrutiny, Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger repeatedly warned of what he perceived as the website’s increasingly left-wing bias.

JAMES LYNCH is a News Writer for National Review. He was previously a reporter for the Daily Caller. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a New York City native.

Reprinted with Permission from National Review – By James Lynch

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of AMAC or AMAC Action.

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John
John
1 month ago

As for AI, I cannot trust it at all, until all data placed in it is deleted and replaced with true facts, no bias or opinions. Currently, Google , Meta and others have contaminated it and Wikipedia is doing the same.Now, all AI data will need to be purged and true, factual correct data be installed.

Gloria
Gloria
26 days ago

I stopped all searches with Wikipedia long ago when I noticed they were more and more biased, to the point of even lying about anyone over anything conservative

Sue
Sue
1 month ago

Wikipedia is a fickle joke. Always changing…not reliable because anybody can put their twist on the topic.

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
28 days ago

Very important information in this article ,Mr. Lynch , any form of corruption by any internet connected outfit needs to be given attention..If less than ethical, less than honest policies are thought of as being acceptable that would be a wrong move in the wrong direction . What you wrote here James should be appreciated for defending the principles of Honor, Honesty, Integrity, Courage and Loyalty. There is much pre- internet information available and it should be considered essential in forming ideas that are historically correct. Conservative views will help to hold this Constitutional Republic, this United States of America together. In the spirit of Truth and Liberty .

Carl Simons
Carl Simons
1 month ago

I always suspected the same. Years ago,when they first started asking for contributions, I noted that they were becoming another parrot for CNNl,nbc,and abc and of course the crap coming from Hollywood and especially how vigorously they denounced my replies to their requests for”just pennies to support their intensive”research”!!! My most useful response was”You want money then stop publishing LIES AND BS!” End of conversation, You will be quick to note that they invariably refer to the”lies”that the 2020 election was a FRAUD! REALLY Hey,my wife and I were watching on TV as the fraud was perpetrated on Channel 10,WCAU,(Phila)! We will gladly testify to that in Court,UNDER OATH! BTW,the ms Maher you refer to wouldn’t perchance be related to nite show”host”Bill Maher? Wouldn’t.be surprised! Oh well,nice when ur suspicions are verified by reputable sources!
BOTTOM LINE? U want real facts? Forget Wikipedia! I did,years ago!

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Thank

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
26 days ago

Duh, really? Next you guys will “discover” bias on YouTube! Yes we already know the disease has spread and its mainstream. While CNN covered riots in Kenya this morning, they ignore the one outside an LA synagogue. Wikipedia is one source of information… so long as you’re looking up things like plane crashes or rock band bios… not political figures or certain history because its politicized like everything else!

Robert
Robert
26 days ago

Many years ago I sent money to support Wikipedia but the next year I started to hear of these things and haven’t donated since. I can’t change the past but I certainly don’t have to repeat the same mistakes into the present and future!

Granny
Granny
23 days ago

Of course it’s slanted, as are the ‘fact checking’ sites – Snopes, Truth or Fiction, etc. They have been from the beginning of their sites.

Avoter
Avoter
25 days ago

I didn’t need a think tank study to inform me of this. Communists will use any means necessary to reach their end game. As much as they have corrupted Foullywood, big corporations, the snooze media, (anti) social media, environmentalism, politicians, the justice system, schools, universities and everything else available to them, did anyone think they would somehow miss the opportunity to corrupt AI?

Bruce
Bruce
25 days ago

Please suggest some good alternatives to Wikipedia that conservatives could use.

Tom
Tom
26 days ago

Anybody can click the Edit tab and make changes, I’ve done it myself.

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