Katie Bloom served as Marketing Manager for Andrew Yang’s non-profit, Venture for America, and used her real name to create his Wikipedia page. Bloom is also listed as being a paid contractor for Yang’s presidential campaign committee.
While Yang has become a widely-recognized face in the political world due to his online popularity and his promise to implement a Universal Basic Income plan upon election, the 2020 candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination did not even have a Wikipedia page when President Donald Trump took office in 2017. A few weeks later that changed after an account under the name “Katiebloom” created an article on Yang at the beginning of February that same year.
Archives of Venture for America’s staff page show that, at the time Yang’s page was created, Katie Bloom served at its marketing manager. No disclosure of affiliation with the group was posted by the account. Though Yang had not yet announced his plans to run for President, roughly two months after the page’s creation he announced plans to resign as CEO of Venture for America. His resignation took effect in September and he launched his campaign two months later. Bloom was subsequently paid as a contractor for Yang’s presidential campaign committee that year, where she is listed as having received nearly $2,000 for writing services.
Although neither the Yang campaign not Bloom responded to requests for comment on this story, Venture for America confirmed that Bloom created the Wikipedia page. The organizations Chief Brand Officer, Antonia Dean, told Breitbart News in a statement: “Katie Bloom set up a page for Andrew Yang as part of her duties as Marketing Manager in order to provide information on Mr. Yang, who, at the time, was increasingly undertaking numerous speaking engagements as VFA’s CEO. The page was created and last edited by Ms. Bloom in February 2017, prior to and without consideration of Mr. Yang’s decision to leave VFA in September 2017 or his subsequent run for public office.”
Largely unchanged from its original promotional form until several months after Yang announced his Presidential run, the Wikipedia page has undergone significant changes as regular editors began turning their attention to the page and Yang became a prominent insurgent candidate in the race. However, initial impressions from any who learned of his run after his announcement would have been shaped primarily by its original author.
It is not uncommon for firms and individuals preparing for a major event such as an initial public offering, a product release, or managerial change, to have a Wikipedia article prepared by a paid staffer or public relations consultant in advance. This allows early opinion of the subject to be shaped in a more favorable light for clients, who might otherwise be presented unfavorably by the site’s regular editors either due to malicious editing or unfavorable coverage in the media being cited on the page. Subjects without a page may also be deemed insignificant.
Yang is not the only 2020 candidate whose Wikipedia page was created by someone directly associated with him as a paid employer or editor. The page for Pete Buttigieg was first created in 2010 by an editor who was a volunteer on his campaign for Indiana State Treasurer. After Slate reported on the editor’s activities and noted evidence the editor acted with Buttigieg’s knowledge, Wikipedia administrators used their advanced privileges to censor the report stating it “doxed” the editor by noting his name, despite the editor giving his identity to Slate himself.
Wikipedia’s prominence in search engine results along with its widespread use by news media and Big Tech firms make it an attractive target for people and companies looking to polish their images. The site’s vulnerability to paid editing is just one factor limiting the site’s usefulness along with its rampant left-wing bias.
T. D. Adler edited Wikipedia as The Devil’s Advocate. He was banned after privately reporting conflict of interest editing by one of the site’s administrators. Due to previous witch-hunts led by mainstream Wikipedians against their critics, Adler writes under an alias.