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article imageCIA, Diebold Caught Editing Own Wikipedia Entries

By Michael Billy     Aug 14, 2007 in Internet
A new program called Wikipedia Scanner created by Virgil Griffith allows users to search a database containing millions of anonymous Wikipedia edits. These edits leave behind an IP address that the program uses to figure out who made the changes.
Wikipedia is an online user-editable encyclopedia that keeps a detailed log of the changes made to it. The person changing the article is tracked by their user name if they are logged in or by a unique IP address if they choose to remain anonymous.
Wikipedia Scanner uses the IP address of these anonymous editors to track the location and name of the person or entity that owns the address.
Doing a search for "Federal Bureau of Investigations", for example, should reveal edits by any IP address owned by the FBI. All of the results on the screen should be anonymous edits to Wikipedia pages made by people in an FBI building.
You can also search by IP address if you know what range of addresses the person or entity owns.
Searching for "Diebold" reveals that someone in the organization's corporate office buildings deleted fifteen paragraphs from a Wikipedia article; removing all criticism of it's e-voting machines.
The paragraphs were shortly restored by another user who warned that deleting information from Wikipedia " considered vandalism."
The CIA, Microsoft, members of the US House of Representatives and the Senate, and Wal-Mart have all had individuals in their organizations edit their own entries. Sometimes they add positive information, but other times, as was the case with Diebold, they also remove criticism.
Former Montana Senator Conrad Burns' office changed a paragraph headed "A controversial voice" to "A voice for farmers," and changed the content of the section in order to make it more image-friendly.
Engaging in these types of actions is certainly not against the law, but it seems to be highly unethical; and a possible violation of a corporations code of ethics. If a company or -- maybe even more so -- a politician is editing Wikipedia in a deceitful manner they should be looked down upon.
All of these organizations should be pressed to find out who in their infrastructure was responsible for either doing the editing or ordering that it be done and proper actions should be taken.
The CIA has also been busy editing Wikipedia, but probably not in a way you might expect. Many changes are updates to local events and school histories while one edit deals with lyrics sung in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Glad to see our tax dollars hard at work.
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