Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Why Wikipedia decided to lock up Gerry Adams

The world's best-known online encylopedia has electronically disabled its biography of Gerry Adams over the question of whether he was ever a member of the Provisional IRA.

The Sinn Fein president has consistently denied ever being a member of the terrorist organisation.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia website, yesterday said material of any kind on living persons which could be libellous had to be removed.

A spokesman for Sinn Fein said the party had no comment to make.

The Gerry Adams page, which is now 'locked', meaning no changes can be made, says: "Senior political, security and media figures, including the Minister for Justice in the Republic of Ireland (Michael McDowell) assert that, from the 1970s until mid-2005, Adams is alleged to have been a member of the IRA's governing army council.

"He has also been accused of being the IRA commander in Belfast during the 1970s."

The page can be viewed here .

Explaining its decision, Wikipedia said: "This article must adhere to the policy on biographies of living persons. Controversial material of any kind that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately, especially if potentially libellous.

"If such material is repeatedly inserted or there are other concerns relative to this policy, report it on the living persons biographies noticeboard.

"This (specific) page is about an active politician who is running for office, is in office and campaigning for re-election, or is involved in some political conflict or controversy.

"Because of this, this article is at risk of biased editing, talk-page trolling, and simple vandalism."

A spokesperson for Wikipedia was not available for comment.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

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