Wikipedia Users Fight Over Donald Trump’s Mug Shot

Does Donald Trump’s new mug shot deserve its own Wikipedia page? That’s the debate happening right now, after the former president was arrested in Georgia on Thursday and released on $200,000 bond. And the discussion has gotten incredibly heated, as users make their case at the community encyclopedia about this historic photo.

In one corner, you have the people who believe Trump’s mug shot deserves its own Wikipedia page because it’s both historic and iconic, perhaps capturing something in our present moment that’s even bigger than Trump as a man.

“Widely described as a historic photograph, the most iconic photograph of a US president ever taken. Highly anticipated and subject of extensive media commentary even for months before it was taken. Clearly notable as a photograph,” one Wikipedia user who favored keeping the mug shot’s page wrote on Friday.

Other users in favor of giving the mug shot its own page noted “even Nixon never had a mug shot” while many people commented on Trump’s defiant expression. The entry itself calls the mug shot an “archetypal masterpiece of Trumpism.”

In the other corner, you have people who believe Trump’s mug shot doesn’t deserve its own page, suggesting instead that it should become a sub-section in a larger article about Trump’s many other legal cases. The top contender at the moment is an article titled “Georgia election racketeering prosecution” about Trump’s efforts to overturn the election in that state.

“Yes, this has got significant coverage in reliable sources, but that doesn’t mean we should have an article on it. For that it needs to have longterm significance, and even then it may be better to cover it in the article on the prosecution,” one user who favored deleting the mug shot page wrote on Friday.

“The image was only taken yesterday and claims the image has enormous historic significance are premature. This is a very high profile news story and even small parts of it are likely to have substantial coverage in reliable sources. Wikipedia is not a news organisation and doesn’t write articles on things just because they are in the news,” the user continued.

As an encyclopedia that anyone can edit, the debate on Wikipedia is likely to continue for some time before a final decision is made. The article on the mug shot currently explains just how unique the photo is in American history and notes that people of all political persuasions are already using the image for their own purposes. Trump started selling t-shirts and mugs with the mug shot on Thursday in an effort to raise funds for his legal defense. And people who oppose Trump have spread the photo far and wide on social media as a symbol of Trump finally facing consequences for countless alleged crimes.

Notably, Trump started selling t-shirts with a fake mug shot back in April after he was arraigned for the first time on state charges in New York for allegedly falsifying business records related to a hush money payment to an adult film star. But now Trump has the real deal to help him sell merchandise.

Fake mug shots of Trump made with the assistance of artificial intelligence have also been incredibly popular over the past few months. Now that a real mug shot exists, it’s no surprise that it’s popular with people of varied attitudes about the former president.

Some political allies of Trump has even photoshopped their own faces into mug shots that emulate the 45th president as a way to show solidarity, with Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene going so far as to make it her Twitter profile picture.

“I stand with President Trump against the commie DA Fani Willis who is nothing more than a political hitman tasked with taking out Biden’s top political opponent. ‘Persecution, not prosecution.’ #MAGAMugshot,” Greene tweeted on Thursday.

It’s unclear whether the dedicated Wikipedia page for Trump’s mug shot will remain online, but it’s interesting to see the debate play out in the discussion page for the photo. Wikipedia, for better and for worse, is an internet institution where millions of people turn for information every day. And the transparency involved in making decisions like this is arguably its best quality.

Anyone can read the debate right there on Wikipedia. And eventually a decision will be made about whether Trump’s mug shot really deserves to have its own page or whether it should get folded into another entry.


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