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A Wikipedia Conspiracy and the Wall Street Meltdown 485

Posted by kdawson
from the controlling-the-public-discourse dept.
PatrickByrne writes "This is The Register's world-class investigative piece concerning one aspect of the meltdown on Wall Street ('naked short selling') and how the criminals engaged a journalist to distort Wikipedia to confuse the discourse. The article explicitly and formally accuses a well-known US financial journalist, Gary Weiss, of lying about his efforts to distort a Wikipedia page under assumed names, and accuses the Powers That Be in Wikipedia (right up to and including Jimbo Wales) of complicity in protecting Weiss. This is not another story about a 15-year-old farm kid in Iowa pretending to be a professor. This is like the worst Chomskian view of Elites manipulating mass opinion. But it is all documented." We discussed the alleged Wikipedia manipulation when The Register first wrote about it last December. The submitter is the CEO of Overstock.com and a major player in this drama from the beginning.
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A Wikipedia Conspiracy and the Wall Street Meltdown

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  • by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @05:18PM (#25267175)

    Politics on a wiki is downright bad and lie-heavy.
    Dry scienc-y and math-y stuff is most likely right.

    For Politick, I go to Faux-News for my daily News(R) and CNN for my other News(D).

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05, 2008 @05:43PM (#25267339)

      Dry scienc-y and math-y stuff is most likely right.

      It is. And it's actually kind of funny. A particular subject may be safe in the hands of experts for hundreds of years. Disputes resolved through educated discourse and research. Progress being made.

      Then all of a sudden the academic topic intersects with a political or religious topic and all hell beaks lose. (Debate and research? Screw you we have talking points! )

    • Why troll? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@NOSpam.Gmail.com> on Sunday October 05, 2008 @07:40PM (#25268065) Homepage Journal

      I don't understand why the parent was modded troll. He's telling the truth.

      Wikipedia is an absolute gift on matters of knowledge in most ways, but its very strength in things like science and math articles are its very weakness in political pages... anyone, including trolls, can edit them. It's kind of hard to write a troll on, say, polynomials. It's all too common to do it to politicians.

      And he's right about the US media becoming like the British media. There are no "neutral" media outlets anymore, if indeed they ever existed in the first place. Much as the UK has red papers and Tory papers, US news outlets now all have a bias of some kind. Fox is well known for tending to the right, CNN trended left in the early 90's (that one was a shame, as they were the only truly unbiased news outlet in America during the late 80's). NBC has gone so blatantly to the left that we call it's cable outlet "MSDNC".

      • perceptions (Score:5, Informative)

        by toby (759) * on Sunday October 05, 2008 @09:57PM (#25268943) Homepage Journal

        CNN trended left in the early 90's

        ...Yet remains right wing to those outside the US. Like all of your popular media, CNN falls far short, in questioning government and policy, of what ordinary attention to public interest, and common ethics, would require.

        FOX, as we all know, is Murdoch, who murdered [counterpunch.org] mainstream journalistic discourse in Australia and the UK long before he started attacking it in the USA.

        None of this is new. Real journalism doesn't get air time [commondreams.org] in the conglomerates. [socialistworker.org] You still have NPR... for now.

        "MONOPOLY IS a terrible thing--until you have it." Those were the words of right-wing media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox TV, Fox News, Century Fox studios and the New York Post, among many others media outlets.

        ... Murdoch sounded as innocent as a lamb when he told the Senate Commerce Committee that relaxing regulations would be a great thing for consumers--and swore that he wasn't about to add to his empire. "I have no plans for anything other than the what I have before you today," said Murdoch--prompting several senators to burst out laughing.

        ... FCC Chair Reed Hundt warned that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 would allow "a few companies to buy all the radio licenses in the country."

        Hundt was right. Since the law passed, Clear Channel Communications has expanded from owning about 40 radio stations in 1995 to approximately 1,200 outlets today--almost 1,000 more than its closest competitor. All told, Clear Channel controls the audience share in 100 of 112 radio markets in the U.S.

  • by liquidpele (663430) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @05:19PM (#25267181) Journal
    the African population of elephants had tripled in the past six months.
    • by Daimanta (1140543)

      True, and I have also heard from a reliable source that a large herd of elephants stormed Wall Street being the actual guilty party to the crash.

    • I heard vista is selling really well and customers love it.

      • Re:I also read that (Score:5, Interesting)

        by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @05:37PM (#25267305)

        Elephants are an expanding computing market.

        • Re:I also read that (Score:4, Interesting)

          by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @11:43PM (#25269569)

          So I got an insightful mod on this post. It has me pondering.

          I mean - sure, thanks for the nod. But I was kind of expecting a "funny." I'm not sure what "insightful" is saying. Is that, in itself, the joke? It boggles my mind that someone might have been taking the quip seriously.

          We have polls claiming a large percentage of people get their news from comedy shows. That's a bit of a sting on our mainstream journalism. But it's always given me this uneasy feeling that it's more of a statement on said people.

          That this is all coming from a meme started by The Colbert Report just seems like poetic justice.

  • Minitrue (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wiredlogic (135348) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @05:26PM (#25267225)

    Excellent, Minitrue is working as planned. We can now commence with phase three or our diabolical plan.

  • Chomskian!? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by NekoXP (67564)

    This is like the worst Chomskian view of Elites manipulating mass opinion

    This is the funniest, hippiest statement I've heard in a while. Criminals engaged a financial journalist to modify some wikipedia articles. If they are the Elites, you got a real fucking crazy view on society, mate..

    TheRegister really is going downhill. It always was a tabloid read at best but this is just sad.

    • Re:Chomskian!? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NoTheory (580275) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @05:51PM (#25267397)
      I've not read any of Chomsky's political theory. But this is definitely a case of the worst sorts of abuses that Wikipedia is susceptible to.

      An editor with a nefarious agenda manages to keep a hold of his account for 2 years because the wikipedia elites have an axe to grind against the nefarious editor's opponents. Who in the end turn out to be correct.

      If that's not emblematic of everything that's wrong with wikipedia i don't know what is.

      Oh, and at least according to Weiss's blog, he's still a contributing editor for Condé Nast Portfolio. I don't know about you, but sustained and concerted efforts to distort a subject should be a firing offense for journalists.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Snowspinner (627098)

        In what way? I mean, yes - clearly an edit war went on with nasty and unethical POV pushing on both sides (The article's "world-class" reporting fails to note the extensive sockpuppetry and vicious attacks engaged in by Byrne and Judd Bagley). But... so what? There's not even any smoke here, little yet fire - Wikipedia's view of naked short selling did not reflect Patrick Byrne's view. Byrne, mind you, was a CEO who was publicly accusing a "Sith Lord" of manipulating his company's stock via naked short sell

        • Re:Chomskian!? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Admiral Ag (829695) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @10:09PM (#25268999)

          Those who modded this post up might want to look at who Phil S is (i.e. he's not a neutral observer).

          The fact is, that anyone who has seen the evidence knows that Gary Weiss had a conflict of interest broke Wikipedia's rules on numerous occasions and had the support of influential admins (up to and including the odious Wales, who is apparently willing to change one's Wiki bio in exchange for sex.) in doing so. Anyone who looks at the evidence knows that Mantanmoreland is Gary Weiss. The evidence is overwhelming.

          As far as Wikipedia is concerned, it does not matter whether Weiss or Byrne was right about naked short selling. What matters is that a small group of corrupt people knowingly abused Wikipedia and still wouldn't admit they were wrong when presented with overwhelming evidence by all sorts of people.

          That's the issue here: Wikipedia is corrupt.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Sockatume (732728)
            There's no doubt who mantanmoreland is and what he did. However there's a vast, well-populated planetary system of doubt around the idea that an elite Wikipedia cabal favoured him because they're out to promote naked shorting and are deliberately keeping Byrne out. Byrne was blocked for behaving like a collosal douche, and went on an offline campaign against the Wikipedia editors who he says are out on a well-laid scheme to destroy his company. That's why he's not allowed to edit any more. That's all there
  • by speedtux (1307149) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @05:31PM (#25267265)

    In the wake of the SEC's crackdown, the mainstream financial press has acknowledged that widespread and deliberate naked shorting can artificially deflate stock prices, flooding the market with what amounts to counterfeit shares.

    How is this different from the trillions of dollars in fake money that are created every year in borrowing/lending arrangements?

    • by MobyDisk (75490) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @05:51PM (#25267389) Homepage

      I think it is different because the borrowing/lending arrangements have real property [wikipedia.org] as collateral. So the money has actual backing, unlike shorting of stocks.

      (I am not an economist)

      • by Trepidity (597)

        A huge proportion of leveraged speculation is with uncollateralized loans. You don't think hedge funds are all backing up their lines of credit with tracts of land as collateral, do you?

    • Naked shorting, as essentially leveraged speculation on downward price movements, does serve as a useful counter to the massive, and often highly leveraged (i.e. bank-created money) speculation on upward price movements that created the bubble that got us into this mess in the first place.

      The Economist provides a nice tongue-in-cheek fake newspaper article from the future, in which regulators ban naked longs [economist.com] to avoid that sort of speculative market manipulation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fractal Dice (696349)

      How is this different from the trillions of dollars in fake money that are created every year in borrowing/lending arrangements?

      For good or ill, taking an asset and repeatedly leveraging it over and over to generate wealth out of thin air and making everyone dependent on everyone else's well-being is the entire foundation of our economic system. Short selling is just a troublemaker critiquing the emperor's frugal fashion sense :)

      • by evilviper (135110) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @07:50PM (#25268145) Journal

        to generate wealth out of thin air and making everyone dependent on everyone else's well-being is the entire foundation of our economic system

        Uhh, no. It's just the foundation of the stock market. Our economy could get along just fine without any stock market at all. Private investment would do the job just fine, without being nearly as susceptible to fraud.

        And I should also point out that this is all a brand new phenomenon. It's been less than 20 years that the stock market has gone so grotesquely out-of-whack, throwing us into several bubble and burst cycles. See: http://www.downside.com/charts/sp500asmall.gif [downside.com]

        That's what happens when you change the tax code to eliminate dividends, and make all investors dependent on capitol gains, which requires a lot of finesse, and mostly luck (if not out and out fraud) to make sure you "getting out" at just the right time, when you can still find a bigger idiot with more money.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bradley2j (1379143)

          You have it exactly backwards. We do need a stock market and privately traded companies are subject to a lot less regulation regarding transparency then publicly traded ones. According to William Bernstein [efficientfrontier.com] an efficient capital market is essential to economic growth.

          I don't see what's brand new. What makes these recent shenanigans different from the ones that caused the stock market crash of 1929?

          You're blaming the wrong market anyway. It's the credit markets that have run amok and caused this crisis. Unregu

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by CTachyon (412849)

          The boom-bust cycle has nothing to do with the stock market. The stock market and boom-bust cycles are both far older than merely 20 years; Marx was complaining about the boom-bust cycle in the mid-1800s.

          According to the Austrian School of economics, the boom-bust cycle is caused by inflation and fractional-reserve banking. (1) The Fed cuts interest rates to stimulate the economy. (2) Banks borrow more cash from the Fed. (3) Banks loan out 10 times as much cash as the amount they just borrowed from the

    • by Snowspinner (627098) <philsand@@@ufl...edu> on Sunday October 05, 2008 @06:52PM (#25267729) Homepage

      You'd have to go into a bit more detail on exactly what sorts of arrangements you mean to produce a good answer here, but I can give you a partial answer.

      No fake money is created in these situations. Money is just a measurement of value - it's a raw form we can convert assets into. But implicit in its idea is a notion of debt as an asset. If I hold a tag sale and sell some stuff, and I get $50 in cash for it, what is my cash, exactly? It's a sort of free-floating, transferrable debt - it means that somebody gave up something that was considered worth something, and obtained a certain amount of purchasing power. By giving up some books and disused furniture, I've obtained $50 of raw purchasing power. Now, in practice, this money is considered to be backed by the US Government - but that is, in the end, immaterial - all that matters is that the green pieces of paper are considered to have an amount of purchasing power.

      The thing is, debts and future predicted events have purchasing power. This is what happens when, for instance, I subscribe to a magazine - I send a company $20, and I get 12 issues of a magazine. But 11 of those issues don't exist when I spend my money - what I'm buying is future magazines. This is why subscriptions are cheaper than newsstand - the publisher likes knowing that they have the next 12 issues sold in advance. But in exchange for the inconvenience of paying out for a product that isn't in existence yet, they give me a steep discount off of what I'd normally pay. What I'm really buying, though, isn't the future magazines - it's an obligation to send me the magazines. It's an intangible good - but it's still a good that has value.

      Similarly, I can buy a future debt. Why? Because debt has value. And as long as something has value, it is worth money.

      Fake money applies differently to naked short selling because there's deception involved - you sell the stock as though you know you'll have it to deliver, and then go try to deliver it. But the person buying doesn't know that. So there's fraud involved. That's the difference - value is being paid for something that is not what it is thought to be. And there fake money comes into it - because something is being represented as having value that it is known not to have.

  • by religious freak (1005821) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @05:44PM (#25267343)
    For those that are interested in exactly what naked shorting is, here is an EXCELLENT explanation of what it is and why it's bad. I believe this is Patrick speaking on the topic. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in the topic, stocks in general, or the financial crisis we're paying $700B for, if you're willing to spend an hour or so learning about it. It gets into the nuts and bolts technicalities and doesn't question the viewer's intelligence. (I'm not affiliated with it in any way, but was simply impressed with it when I watched it a year or two ago)

    http://www.businessjive.com/ [businessjive.com]
  • So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by glwtta (532858) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @05:45PM (#25267351) Homepage
    Encyclopedias aren't for current events, nything related to current events on Wikipedia can be safely ignored.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      Encyclopedias aren't for current events, nything related to current events on Wikipedia can be safely ignored.

      "Naked short selling" isn't a current event.
      It's a technical term with a definition.

      The problem is that certain people were fucking around with that definition and lazy individuals (journalists) didn't consult with anyone who would have pointed it out.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @06:55PM (#25267749)
    Gary Weiss [wikipedia.org], Patrick M. Byrne [wikipedia.org]. Showing the clear and overwhelming bias in favour of Weiss and against Byrne.
  • by Stats_for_all (907563) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @08:49PM (#25268547)
    This is a post copied from Overstock's Investor Village forum. Byrne is solicting drive by modding to keep his story over the fold. Who is manipulating who?
    =====COPIED============
    The Most important favor I have ever made of you folks - Slashdot
    Hey Sports Fans.

    I don't often ask for your help, but I am asking for it now: rec this post and spread the word on what I describe below. I submitted to SlashDot.com Cade Metz's story from TheRegister. It was accepted. Right now it is on the home page ("A Wikipedia Conspiracy and the Wall Street Meltdown") of Slashdot.com.

    The significance of that is that plenty of mainstream press looks at what does well on Slashdot, and then write about it. Ultimately, I think control of the Wikipedia page gave the miscreants the high ground from which to shape the discourse in the mainstream press, which is why it took so long for them to write about this issue long after the data had become incontrovertible. That means to break through the cover-up we had to follow the thread all the way back to Wikipedia, expose them there, then expose their hijacking of Wikipedia, then get the mainstream press to see that. It has all been done but the last step. Cade Metz's story is out. We need the mainstream press to notice it and write about it.

    So go to Slashdot, read the story, and if you approve of the story, then vote for it (assuming you are registered). The more votes it gets, the longer it stays on Slashdot, and the more independent and mainstream journalists will start noticing and digging into this.

    Patrick
  • by OldHawk777 (19923) * <<ten.nozirev> <ta> <tnavoleda>> on Monday October 06, 2008 @08:45AM (#25271911) Journal

    Me thinks,

    We accuse the worker/drone bees of many harmful blinding stings, but fail to suspect the C*O "Market Queens" and many "Politically Correct" (PC for PTB) things done globally.

    The injuries (suffering, deaths, wars) are unintentional gapping economic wounds caused by dumb negligent sharks in a greedy feeding frenzy.

    This is common when the shark masters (Unaccountable Leaders) gleefully anticipate the gladiatorial sacrifice of troublesome Slaves (Unrepresented Public) and are rewarded with $700B to fail USAgain.

    Godddd bless them one and all.

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