Some Wikipedia administrators admitted to researchers of Drexel University in Philadelphia that they have been receiving horrendous threats because of the insertion or removal of delicate information concerning any controversial topics they moderate on the information-centric website. Regarding this situation, the academic institution claimed its worries about online privacy.
According to the International Business Times, the researchers interviewed 23 people, including many Wikipedia editors. During the course of the study, it was found that users who work on collaborative projects usually receive terrible threats that they fear for the safety of themselves and their families. Apparently, some of these messages come from groups of people, individuals, and even governments.
Wikipedia Editors Have To Use Tor
The most amazing fact is that many of these editors have ended up using The Onion Router (Tor) anonymity network to disguise their IP addresses, considering that most of the time, people who threaten them tend to trace their IPs. This network has been known as the one that many cyber criminals use to commit illegal actions without being tracked.
"Wikipedia editors are volunteers who are trying to build a comprehensive free information resource for everyone on the planet. Tor users are often not seen in those positive ways. But these two organizations are actually committed to the same things - a free global exchange of information with everyone able to participate," associate professor in Drexel´s College of Computing & Informatics and lead author of the study Andrea Forte stated on the research.
Rape And Death Threats Came From Other Editors
This terrible situation that has hovered over Wikipedia editors has increased in recent years since animosity towards their job has been rising. The most disgusting fact is that among the are death and rape threats, one happened involving a female administrator who started working on the site when she was 13. Even at that age, she received sexually aggressive comments on many occasions.
Another incredible situation is that most of time, some threats came from editors on the project itself, who had problems with published or disallowed works. According to the International Business Times, these threats became even more violent and intense if editors were on important positions as administrators or members of the arbitration committee.
"If such voices are systematically dampened by the threat of harassment, intimidation, violence, or opportunity and reputation loss, projects like Wikipedia cannot hope to attract the diversity of contributors required to produce 'the sum of all human knowledge,'" the researchers explained.