An onslaught of racist and sexist edits to Harris’s Wikipedia page following her VP pick show what’s ahead on the campaign trail.
Kamala Harris is under attack. Since her nomination, she has been attacked and questioned on her birthplace, race, and preparedness by President Trump.
Her Wikipedia page has become a disinformation battleground, with veteran editors and supporters trying to fix a barrage of offensive and false edits.
Shortly after the VP announcement, her name on Wikipedia was changed to "Cuntala Harris," which prompted Wikipedia administrators to turn on a "semi-protected" feature to limit who could edit Harris's page.
Why it Matters:
Wikipedia is a Major Information Source
Despite credibility issues, the online encyclopedia is a primary source of information for regular people, especially during elections. The website ranks in the top ten of most-visited websites in the US and worldwide, with 5.12 billion visits in July, 2020 alone.
Since joining the Democratic ticket, Harris's Wikipedia page amassed almost 15 million pageviews, with 8 million in the first 24 hours.
Birtherism Finds a New Target
Besides the name changing, her Wikipedia page prompted an extensive debate in 24 hours among moderators about her race, using African-American to describe Harris, and her citizenship.
This discussion and Republican attempts to misrepresent her race and citizenship harkens back to the birtherism attacks on President Obama. Unfortunately, this tacit has had some success with voters, as 72% of registered Republicans had doubts about Obama’s citizenship according to a 2016 NBC news poll.
Unverified Claims and Disinformation
New users linked Harris's page to unprotected pages, with unverified allegations that her ancestors were plantation owners. Wikipedia editors fact-checked the claims, labeling it as misleading and lacking evidence for any relationship between pages.