FLASHBACK: Champion of Truth Jimmy Wales Edited Own Wiki Page to Remove Links to Porn Industry

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By Kieran Corcoran | 8:16 am, April 27, 2017

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales bravely rode into battle against fake news this week, announcing a new media venture called Wikitribune.

He said it would harness the powers of the crowd and be above the failings of most news outlets, enabling readers to really trust it.

But how does Wales’s own record on unvarnished truth-telling stack up?

Heat Street is reminded of one unedifying incident from early in Wikipedia’s history, which saw Wales purge his own profile of X-rated details he didn’t like.

In the mid-1990s, Wales co-founded a site called Bomis. It began as a general interest site but swiftly became mostly about porn, via its “Bomis Babes” section.

Its proceeds provided some of the cash which enabled the creation of Wikipedia.

But when Wales noticed that a wiki entry on Bomis had sprung up, he brushed aside Wikipedia’s most basic principle and jumped in to edit it himself.

You can read the details in full in this WIRED article from 2005, which tells how Wales removed a line describing Bomis as “soft-core pornography” and two further references to porn, replacing them with euphemisms.

In a feeble attempt to justify himself, he told WIRED: “If R-rated movies are soft porn, it was porn. In other words, no, it was not. That description is inaccurate.”

It is unclear exactly how exposed the porn stars on Wales’s site were, because the entire thing has since been scrubbed from the internet.

Archived images seen by Heat Street show scantily-clad women, sometimes kissing each other, with links tempting viewers to “See this babe naked. Click here.”

He later admitted that he shouldn’t have made the edits. Wales said: “People shouldn’t do it, including me… I wish I hadn’t done it. It’s in poor taste.”

What better man to save the news industry?

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