In the midst of the controversy over the detention of illegal immigrants and characterizations of it as a “family separation” policy, Wikipedia editors added a section about detention facilities for illegal immigrants to a page listing “concentration and internment camps.” Although the section violated several of the site’s policies, favorable coverage from Gizmodo and Vice followed three days later.
Media attention prompted an edit war over the section, leading eventually to its removal and the page being locked to all editing from regular users. Special rules in place for edits on American politics mean the section cannot be restored without a clear consensus in favor of restoration.
The section was added by an unregistered user from a New York City IP address on June 16. It described the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy as “forcibly separating children and parents arriving at the US border” without specifying the law requires minors coming across the border illegally not be held for an extended period of time. Another unregistered user expanded the section with this information a few hours later, though without providing sources for some of the material.
The section predominantly cited sources that did not reference either concentration or internment camps, including claims about health violations at some detention centers. Wikipedia’s policies on verifiability and original research require using sources directly pertaining to the subject of the article and prohibit using unrelated sources to advance unstated conclusions.
Unaware or unconcerned about these issues, left-wing media began reporting favorably on the article. Gizmodo was the first major outlet to write about it in an article by Matt Novak, which repeatedly referred to the “Trump regime” and presented the concentration camp designation as factual. Novak described the addition in laudable terms as “our history books . . . being written in real time.” He further claimed the section was a “surprisingly unbiased entry that’s clearly presenting information without taking sides.”