The Signpost

Disinformation report

Wikipedia on Santos

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By Smallbones

George Anthony Devolder Santos was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from New York's 3rd district last November and he now has many problems. He lies. A lot. The Associated Press writes that Santos "admitted that … he lied". The New York Times quotes Santos's fellow Nassau County Republicans calling him a "liar" and a "serial liar". The usual qualifiers like "accused", "apparent", "alleged" or "seems" have not been added.

The Guardian calls him a "serial liar", as does Vanity Fair which also adds in "pathological liar." The Washington Post varies this menu with "serial fabulist" and "pathological liar".

New York Magazine, The Washington Post, and several other publications are keeping complete lists of his lies. But it's hard for them to keep up. It seems like there's a new lie, or at least an unusual purported fact about Santos, that is revealed every day.

If you have been following the Santos saga in the press, you may want to skip to the next paragraph since the following lies have been widely published and documented. Santos did not attend a fancy prep school. He did not graduate from Baruch University or star on its volleyball team, or get two knee replacements because of his sacrifices for the sport. He did not earn an MBA degree from New York University. He did not work at either Goldman Sachs or Citigroup. He is not Jewish – and, despite his claim, not even Jew-ish, nor Ukrainian. His mother was not one of the first successful female financial executives in New York. She didn't have an office at the World Trade Center and didn't die on 9/11/2001, nor years later from the effects of that tragedy. He doesn't have a real estate portfolio, unless you count the apartments that he left without paying his rent. His family was not rich, it's unclear where the $700,000 he lent to his congressional campaign came from. He did work for a firm that has been accused by the US Securities and Exchange Commission of being a Ponzi scheme.

But there are too many well-documented lies to continue.

His problems include the federal, state, and local prosecutors who have said they are investigating him, although they haven't issued indictments. He will also be investigated by the House Ethics Committee. A Newsday poll this week shows that 78% of his constituents believe that he should resign from Congress, so his political career is likely almost over.

But perhaps his main problem is that he has been identified too many times in the reliable press as a liar. Publications, reliable or otherwise, may now have little or no fear of a libel suit from Santos. We might expect even more news reports of his lying to continue.

In an environment where the news media is swarming around Santos, Wikipedians need to be careful in evaluating the report that Santos edited Wikipedia and claimed that he was a drag queen and had appeared in several Disney television shows, including in "Hanna Montana" [sic].

A user page

The most serious report was that Santos, using the name User:Anthonydevolder, performed two edits to his Wikipedia userpage in 2011, making bizarre claims amid a host of misspellings and grammatical errors. "Anthony" and "Devolder" are Santos's two middle names. He appears to have preferred using these names, rather than "George Santos", at different times or for different audiences.

User:Anthonydevolder did make two edits on April 29, 2011, about three months before Santos's 23rd birthday. See Special:Permalink/426494196. The user only edited their user page, and did not edit any article pages. On April 30, 2011, the user did attempt to create an article on Anthony Devolder, but was foiled by automatic edit filters. The attempted edit triggered three edit filters: a new article without references, vandalism in all caps, and users creating autobiographies. The attempted article creation would have been identical to the user page he created.

Born into a Brazilian family with european backround on july 22nd 1988,Anthony Devolder first startted his "stage" life at age 17 as an gay night club DRAG QUEEN and with that won sevral GAY "BEAUTY PAGENTS"!althought after meeting hollwood producer Ling kiu known for producing INDEPENDENTS DAY BY STEVEN SPILBERG) an older Anthony then took his step into the begining of his carrer in witch he started in a few T.V shows and DISNEY Channel shows such as "the suite life of Zack and Cody" and the hit Hanna Montana".but it wasn't untill he taped his very first movie in 2009 startting Uma Turman,Chris Odanald ,Melllisa George and Alicia Silver Stone in the movie "THE INVASION".

The user page was rarely viewed, with only 2 pageviews between July 2015 – when this data was first collected – through January 19, 2023. Similarly, his user talk page was never edited or viewed before January 20, 2023.

So, did George Santos write these words? We should remember that a Wikipedia editor's identity can never be completely determined simply by the public record of their edits. Somebody else may be impersonating a well-known person in order to embarrass them, a tactic known as a Joe job.

Who might want to embarrass Santos (or Devolder as he was better known then)? Everybody has some enemies, but Santos's were likely to have been limited at this time, as he spent much of 2008 to 2011 in Brazil. Still, he may have had enemies in his neighborhood or at his job. An impersonator would have to have known a lot about Santos – his birthday, his purported career as a drag queen, and his dreams of becoming a film star. Santos would have known all this information, but it is impossible to rule out that there may have been a Joe jobber.

The George Santos article

The Wikipedia article about Santos was created as a draft on November 4, 2020 – the day after the 2020 Congressional election that Santos lost to Tom Suozzi. There were only two references given in the article: one to a local Long Island newspaper, and the other to a Greek-American newspaper. The article was not very long, and didn't even mention that Santos lost the election.

The article remained a draft through its first 11 edits, until November 9, 2022 – the day after the 2022 election which Santos won – though his victory was not noted in the article. Only one new reference had been added to the article since it had been created. By the end of the day, 14 more edits had been made, and there were a total of 5 references. Bogus information about Santos's education had by then been included.

On November 11 User:Devmaster88 made their only two edits to Wikipedia: both of them to the Santos article, changing the subject's name from "George Anthony Devolder Santos" to "George Devolder-Santos".

User:Devmaster88 was later blocked as a likely sockpuppet of User:Georgedevolder22, whose Wikipedia career consisted entirely of seven edits to the Santos article on November 17 and November 19, mostly changing the subject's name from "George Anthony Devolder Santos" to "George Santos".

Does the name User:Georgedevolder22, and these editors' interests, indicate that Santos himself was the editor? It's possible, but it's also possible that one of Santos's enemies was trying to embarrass him.

Feel free to give your opinion in the comments section below.

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I'm honestly shocked that you would treat the former Editor in Chief of Signpost this way. Santos has single-handedly written thousands of articles and all we receive is a smear piece. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Shushugah (talkcontribs)

What do you mean? That's ridiculous. Everybody knows that George Santos wrote this article himself! jp×g 22:09, 4 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Ok, I admit it - I am George Santos! But seriously, if anybody thinks I went too easy on him, please reread the first 3 sentences (and the sentences immediately following for the references). We've got several rules that I have to observe here, e.g. WP:BLP, WP:Harass, and WP:Outing among them. Admins and even some arbs have warned me about following these rules, and they enforce the rules unevenly. They do have a chilling effect. But what is stated here is what I know and can support with confidence, references and diffs. The non-Wikipedia part of the article is overwhelming, and true, and documented. The Wikipedia part is quite concerning, and may be a bit understated (consistent with WP:BLP). But ultimately the evidence related to such a publicly discussed accusation against one of our alleged editors, needs to be discussed dispassionately on Wikipedia. I am a bit concerned that the news articles that will be coming out soon about Santos will be biased against him because every newspaper knows that they can't be sued for defamation by Santos (I am not a lawyer and not offering legal advice here). Smallbones(smalltalk) 03:18, 5 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Despite the fact I consider Santos a lying [expletive deleted], I found your moderate take on him in this article a refreshing change from the usual coverage. After all, the man has shown himself to be a compulsive liar time & again -- what more can be said on that accusation? Providing just the facts avoids repeating this well-known judgment. -- llywrch (talk) 08:54, 5 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Yep. That's what FactsOnly13 (talk · contribs) thought too. Andreas JN466 09:24, 5 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]

Funniness aside, is this the first high-profile instance of a sitting U.S. congressman attempting to edit their own Wikipedia page? I'm sure other prominent or state-level politicians have done so. If so, I wonder how much we should be worried about this becoming increasingly frequent. Admittedly, we have time; most incumbent congressmen skew so old that the internet itself, much less Wikipedia, is a foreign concept. But as the inevitable weight of mortality pushes in a new generation of tech-savvy politicians, I'm curious as to how well-fortified Wikipedia is against attempts to self-edit articles by—let's face it—people more competent than Santos. Krisgabwoosh (talk) 22:25, 6 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]

@Krisgabwoosh: Smallbones(smalltalk) 00:57, 7 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]

My favorite bit of George Santos "lore" is that he claimed to be a "producer" on Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the famously disastrous Spider-Man musical that kept injuring its actors. He would have been 22 years old at the time of its premiere. Of all the well-known musicals to claim credit for... why this one????? Axem Titanium (talk) 02:32, 7 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]

Krisgabwoosh, you asked, "Is this the first high-profile instance of a sitting U.S. congressman attempting to edit their own Wikipedia page?" Good question! In 2012 or thereabouts, someone wrote a script that tracked whenever there were edits from IP address blocks assigned to Congressional offices. The script then posted the relevant IP address and WP mainspace page name to Twitter. The account name was @CongressEdits (via WMF Labs). Both parties were brazen, and activity increased sharply around lunch time, Eastern Standard Time. I don't recall whether Twitter or Congress interceded, or perhaps if the feed continues to exist. The editing was quite prolific! Many edits were not to BLPs of Congress people but plenty were, or to other pages that raised eyebrows. Surreptitious Congressional editing also occurred in 2006, prior to Twitter.--FeralOink (talk) 13:49, 7 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]
I hadn't realized there was already a whole article about the subject! My worry is of these kinds of edits getting "smarter" for lack of a better word. It's quite easy when the editor is a staffer with an IP right in their boss's office, or when the editor openly states that they're work for U.S. reps. This stems from a lack of knowledge of what "anyone can edit" actually means. I loathe the day a politician hires a true professional to touch up their biography. Krisgabwoosh (talk) 16:42, 7 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Bzzzt, it's been going on, wholesale and in a well documented way, since at least 2011 (details via conflict of interest noticeboard). Take a gander at all the reputation management firms listed at WP:PAIDLIST if you want more evidence. ☆ Bri (talk) 16:52, 7 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Along those lines, I fought a SPA way back in 11 May 2006 who was trying to get material relating to Lost (TV series) into Wikipedia as fact, not as acknowledged fiction. (ISTR, one of the people who made those edits left a petulant note on my talk page complaining that I had nominated the article for deletion, but I can't seem to find it.) So fighting the forces to subvert fact on Wikipedia have been around longer than many current Wikipedians. (Ugh.) -- llywrch (talk) 23:16, 8 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Well, it's like Colin said on SNL ... what kid grows up and has as their life aspiration to be a star on the Baruch volleyball team? "It's like asking a kid what he wants to be when he grows up and he says 'I dunno ... assistant manager at Kohl's, maybe?'".

Seriously, I think, having worked heavily on the Santos article and knowing all the ins and outs of the story, that Santos was just, as many serial fabulists of his ilk do, appropriating someone else's story (his former manager at LinkBridge) into a context convenient for him at the time.

Putting himself on S:TotD actually is consistent with his other lies. He's smart enough not to tell things so incredible as to invite withering scrutiny, so he says he produced a failed musical, not a successful one, so people will be less likely to check. Likewise, telling people in the New York area you went to Baruch and Stern then worked on Wall Street is generally going to be taken on faith, in a way that it wouldn't if he'd claimed to have attended Harvard and Yale (but that, of course, is pretty much what he did with his employment history, as Goldman and Citi are pretty much the equivalent). He was also very smart not to pretend he had a military career ... compare with that guy who was running against Marcy Kaptur and turned out to have been greatly exaggerating his Air Force service (claimed to have been working ground crew in Afghanistan where he "couldn't shower for 40 days" when he was actually in Qatar on a relatively plush post). Daniel Case (talk) 21:05, 12 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]

Might as well get a list

We can start with this: Smallbones(smalltalk) 19:54, 7 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]


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