Wikipedia’s Siegenthaler Biography Incident

Andrew Lih’s The Wikipedia Revolution describes the drama and impact surrounding Wikipedia’s Siegenthaler biography incident (Wiki article).

According to the subject’s Wikipedia article,

In May 2005, an anonymous editor posted a hoax article in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia about journalist John Seigenthaler.[1] The article falsely stated that Seigenthaler had been a suspect in the assassinations of U.S. PresidentJohn F. Kennedy and U.S. Attorney GeneralRobert F. Kennedy. The then-78-year-old Seigenthaler, a friend and aide to Robert Kennedy, characterized the Wikipedia article about him as “Internet character assassination”.[2]

The hoax was not discovered and corrected until September of that year, after which Seigenthaler wrote about his experience in USA Today. The incident raised questions about the reliability of Wikipedia and other websites with user-generated content that lack the legal accountability of traditional newspapers and published materials. [. . .] Seigenthaler said that he did not want to have anything to do with Wikipedia because he disapproved of its basic assumptions. In an article Seigenthaler wrote for USA Today in late 2005, he said, “I am interested in letting many people know that Wikipedia is a flawed and irresponsible research tool.”[2]

I thought it would be interesting to reach out to Siegenthaller to see if he still had the same negative opinion of Wikipedia. But he unfortunately passed away in 2014.