Wikipedia has become home base for a loose worldwide network of pedophiles who are campaigning to spin the popular online encyclopedia in their favor and are trying to lure more people into their world, an investigation by FoxNews.com confirms.
Chat room posts show a clear effort by pedophiles to use Wikipedia, which can be accessed unfiltered in public schools across the country, to further their agenda. Message board posts often include links to specific Wikipedia articles that the participants say need to be edited to "normalize" pedophile behavior in the public eye and to recruit more pedophiles into their community.
“Pedophiles have campaigned to push their point of view that 'pedophilia is OK and doesn’t hurt children' on Wikipedia,” says Xavier Von Erck, director of the online pedophile watchdog organization Perverted Justice Foundation and Wikisposure.com, its offshoot project devoted to tracking pedophiles and pedophile activism on Wikipedia. “This has been a problem since Wikipedia started.”
In response to a request for comment on this story, Sue Gardner, executive director of Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia's parent organization, said in a statement:
"Wikipedia has a long-held, zero-tolerance policy towards pedophilia or pedophilia advocacy and child pornography. The Wikimedia community is vigilant about identifying and deleting any such material. Any allegations to the contrary are outrageous and false."
On April 22, a user with the screen name “apple” on the BoyChat message board posted a call for pedophiles around the world to start a Wikipedia article devoted to the author of a memoir described as “the life history of a lover of boys!!”
(BoyChat is a notorious, long-running online message board for adults who are attracted to underage boys.)
A user named “Drowning, not waving” replied in a post called “apple get that Wikipedia entry written”:
“IMO still the best autobiography written by a bl [boy lover]. A must read, despite (or because of) depicting a very different world to today's.
"And don't forget his Some Boys for a fleshier look at his interaction with the world.”
Three years ago, on Annabelleigh.net, an online message board for adults who are sexually attracted to prepubescent girls, a user named “student” outlined the campaign to use Wikipedia as a platform for activism and to recruit more pedophiles. (Annabelleigh, also called GirlChat, is the sister site to BoyChat.)
The Annabelle post, titled “Keep your eye on the prize,” read:
“The most important function Wikipedia serves is via the pedophilia articles themselves. It is important that they remain fair and unbiased. It is important that they continue to have external links to the support and activist community. The user pages are much less important.
"It is of the utmost importance that pedophiles newly daring to google "pedophile" or "pedophilia," or look them up directly in Wikipedia, in an effort to understand themselves better, are able to get unbiased information …. Many of these men and women are in dire need of support.
"Secondly, nonpedophiles who recognize the increasingly sensationalistic media treatment, etc., and turn to the Web to find the facts or people who use the Web as their primary source of information: If they turn to Wikipedia, Wikipedia should give a fair and balanced view. This community needs that to happen….
"That should be the primary focus of our Wikipedia efforts. If you have to 'lie and hide' to keep our influence balanced against the bigots, then by all means lie and hide to do it. By all means, do not give up the fight to self-identify on the user pages, but make sure you do not let it stop you from editing!”
Wikipedia's critics point out that schools throughout the U.S. encourage students to do research on the online encyclopedia, which is free and available to anyone with an Internet connection. This means that students who use Wikipedia to research the academic subject of pedophilia will immediately find a page on the topic that is being targeted by the pedophiles. Wikipedia's "Pedophilia" page also is the first "hit" when you search the term in Google or Bing.
The article on pedophilia, in its suggestions for further reading, suggests other Wikipedia pages edited by pedophiles, including "Child Sexuality," and "NAMBLA," a page about the North American Man/Boy Love Association. That page links directly to NAMBLA's website, as do 25 other Wikipedia pages.
Wikipedia also has 32 external links to GirlChat, 14 to a Danish pro-pedophile website and 12 to BoyChat.
FoxNews.com also found hundreds of posts on BoyChat linking to Wikipedia pages, including "Child Sex Tourism," which provides detailed information on the different laws regarding child prostitution in countries around the world, and which links to newspaper articles that highlight “hotspots” like a section of Mexico City where child exploitation is rampant and unchecked by law enforcement. Other recent links were to Wikipedia pages named “Sexual Objectification," "Child Erotica" and “Simulated Child Pornography.”
These Wikipedia articles, edited and shared by pedophiles, are nothing but guideposts to get them aroused, says Hemanshu Nigam, who headed security divisions at Microsoft and MySpace and now runs SSP Blue, an online security consulting firm.
Posts on BoyChat also instruct participants to hide their identities and avoid being blocked by other users while editing pedophilia-related articles on Wikipedia.
Anyone can edit an article on Wikipedia as long as he follows Wikipedia’s principles of having a neutral point of view, which means the articles aren’t supposed to take sides on any issue and they must cite “verifiable, authoritative sources,” according to Wikipedia. Some pages are protected and can be edited only by volunteer administrators who have a certain number of edits and days editing under their belt, while other pages are fully protected and may be edited only by volunteer administrators or stewards voted on by the community. If someone makes an edit that other members of the community don’t approve, they can revert that edit or, in more drastic circumstances, nominate the entire page for deletion. The deletion request is then commented on by other members of the community until a consensus is reached. (Click here to see Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines page and here for the fundamental principles by which Wikipedia operates.]
But an investigation by FoxNews.com shows that pedophiles are gaming this system, using their message boards to rally opposition and to sabotage attempts by other Wikipedia community members to rid the online encyclopedia of pro-pedophilia content.
For example a 2007 post on BoyChat calls on the pedophile community to vote against another user’s request to delete a Wikipedia page called “Marthijn Uittenbogaard,” named for the leader of a defunct Dutch political party that had three members and advocated for the legalization of sex between adults and children.
After the page was nominated for deletion by multiple Wikipedia users, a BoyChat user named “SqueakBox” wrote on the blog:
“Hysterical antiped lists Marthijn Uittenbogaard for wikipedia scrapheap!
"Get yer' votes in -"
The blog post concludes with a link to the Wikipedia page where the proposed deletion was being voted on.
The site remains active today.
Wikisposure has identified hundreds of convicted pedophiles and well-known pedophilia activists who have been members of Wikipedia’s community of volunteers who edit articles on the online encyclopedia. Some pedophiles active on Wikipedia have been sent to prison on charges relating to child pornography, according to Wikisposure, which has assisted in some of the investigations.
Von Erck, who uses a pseudonym, said a number of pedophiles have been kicked off the site, but many of them have returned using different usernames.
“The problem with it is you need to have a committed effort to deal with committed people who are devoted to pushing their propaganda online like pedophiles,” he said.
But Nigam, who is co-chairman of President Obama's Online Safety Technology Group and sits on the board of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said it's not that complicated. "Almost every other social networking site has taken steps to clean up their sites, except for Wikipedia," he said.
Nigam said Wikipedia is making a conscious choice to abandon its responsibility by hosting an online haven for pedophiles.
“It’s nothing more than a company that is choosing to ignore the worst kind of exploitation in the world,” he said.