The Student Who Created a PR Nightmare Via Wikipedia

By Paul Michael on 22 August 2007 (Updated 22 April 2011) 59 comments

Virgil Griffith is someone I am proud to look up to. In a moment of inspiration, he created a program called Wikipedia Scanner that lets you know who has been editing articles on Wikipedia and what they've been removing. Not surprisingly, the revelations have left many giant corporations and even the White House staff in a tailspin. For those of you that know me and my "power to the people" philosophy, this is definitely 1-0 to the little guys. (See also: It's a Jungle Out There: Spotting Fake Reviews)

In a story by the MaltaStar, we learn just what prompted Virgil to act and the resulting chaos that ensued. He had "heard about Congressmen being caught for white-washing their Wikipedia pages." (Why am I not surprised that a politician would do such a thing?) But then it hit Virgil that maybe there was a way to discover who had being doing edits in Wikipedia, and what they had done.

The result is a laundry list of changes that makes Wikipedia look like an agent of propaganda and a completely unreliable tool. You can see more of the list of revelations at the MaltaStar, but some of my favorite edits include...

  • Microsoft tried to cover up the XBOX 360 failure rate
  • In the 9/11 Wikipedia article, the NRA added that "Iraq was involved in 9/11"
  • Exxon Mobil edits spillages and eco-system destruction from oil spillages article
  • Scientology removes criticism and negatives article from Scientology page
  • Dog breeding association deletes whole paragraphs about fatal attacks by dogs on humans
  • Fox News removes all controversial topics against the network from the Fox News page
  • Walmart removes criticism of outsourcing work. The retailer also changes negative paragraphs of underpaid workforce
  • Someone at Reuters calls Bush "a mass murderer"
  • Coca Cola removes negative content about its effects
  • US University adds the "prestigious" adjective to its page

Why is this important? Why should we care? Well, to many Wikipedia is a source of legitimate information. I'm not even sure how many people realize that Wikipedia can be edited by general users. Yup, anyone can write and submit an article. Comforting thought. But once again, this shows the two-faced nature of so many corporations. The X-Files was famous for saying "The Truth Is Out There" but these days, finding that truth is getting harder and harder.

For those of you who'd like to see the darker side of many corporations for yourselves, I highly recommend a documentary called "The Corporation" by Mikela J. Mikael.

The Corporation

The Corporation

It's available from most stores including the ever-reliable Amazon and probably your local library. I doubt we can lift the fog from these billion-dollar companies, but maybe we can all help other people see that the fog exists at all.

4.23077
Average: 4.2 (13 votes)
Your rating: None
ShareThis

comments

59 discussions

Add New Comment

CAPTCHA
This test helps prevent automated spam submissions.
Guest's picture
plonkee

The best thing about Wikipedia is that this sort of thing comes to light. That and there comprehensive set of mathematical articles (I'm a geek at heart).

Guest's picture
Patsapien

There should be an entry listing all questionable edits and their editors and it could get linked permanently to the pages which were edited.

If someone directly involved with the subject of an entry is involved in the editing of an entry that's the evolution of the subject as I see it.
an appropriate note detailing the event should be added and a link to the entry on questionable edits.

Guest's picture
jas

the best thing about wikipedia? there IS no best thing about wikipedia!!!!

Guest's picture
Scott W. Allen

This kind of editing is why many colleges and universities don't allow Wikipedia to be used as a reference.

Guest's picture
TechGyo

Yeah, you said it right.

Guest's picture
Guest

Wikipedia is a great place to start or get an overview. Anyone interested in the facts needs to dig around in as many sources as possible and question them all-- not just Wikipedia.

Guest's picture
John

...these days, finding that truth is getting harder and harder.

Umm...hello? Isn't this an example of how finding the truth is getting EASIER?

I always get irritated when people talk about how "things ain't what they used to be" when things are almost always getting better. Corporations are often evil, yes, but it's getting harder and harder for them to get away with it. Platforms like blogs, Wikipedia, Youtube, and even the plain ol' web level the playing field because everybody can participate.

Guest's picture
Guest

the tide is changing.

the entire marketing world is starting to flip from one where the business said things to one whre the consumer is in control.

it is a weird shift. but it is real

Mark

Guest's picture
Guest

Thank you, finally I was beginning to think everyone but me was buying into the **** storm the evening news is trying to make us believe. We live in one of the most open and safe times in history, its time to quit complaining so much and appreciate it.

Guest's picture
blufindr

It depends on what you define as 'truth'. In this day and age, (dis)information is easier to find. Allowing more people to make changes to something that people consider a legitimate source of accurate information, and then considering this information to be 100% legit, is a laughable idea.

Guest's picture
Guest

Ehem...due to the whimsical general user changes...true information found on Wiki is not easily found. Perhaps reading to understand rather than reading to get through it might bring to light the meaning of the article.

Paul Michael's picture

To say that blogs and YouTube level the playing field of organizations that spend billions on PR is hardly accurate. After all, exactly how many people will read this article? Or the article in the MaltaStar? A few thousand? Wikipedia may be read by many more people, but not using the Wikipedia scanner, so disinformation is still out there. Look at the last election. A smear campaign with blatant lies about John Kerry and his Vietnam service seriously affected the vote. No hard evidence was ever presented, just word of mouth. Many blogs and news services tried to right this, but their collected tiny voice could not compete with widespread media buying and large scale PR spending. So are things getting better? Well, maybe it's easier to find information but finding out the validity of that information means doing a whole lot of digging. And most people don't do that. They just sit back and take what they're given. I'm sure that as an informed and intelligent reader, you find it much easier than most to discover the truth. But in general, I think it's far more difficult for the average Joe to know what's going on.

Ed O'Reilly's picture

In response to John's comment: isn't it more like corporations are getting larger and larger, including media outlets who should be reporting about corporate misconduct?

If a corporation has interests in several areas, one of them being news (online or print), how can you expect an unbiased report on the activities of that corporation's other interests?

I don't think it's getting harder for them to "get away with it"; I think it's getting harder to find out about it.

Guest's picture
Guest

I think it's getting harder to find out about it.

How? How is it getting harder to find out about it? 40 years ago some guy had to call himself Deep Throat and meet Woodward and Bernstein in a darkened parking garage. Now that guy could start a blog and reach a million people before breakfast.

It sounds to me like you're complaining that the major media outlets aren't as unbiased as we'd all like. So what? They never were!

Now, however, we have widespread and, more importantly, decentralized outlets that anybody can utilize. Information is now in the hands of the people.

Paul - you probably have, at your fingertips, the potential to reach at least a few thousand people (maybe more, I don't know) via this blog every day. How could you possibly have hoped to achieve that before blogs?

Guest's picture
Jenny

Actually, this story has been pretty well-covered.

MaltaStar was NOT the first to report this. Wired Magazine was. And it's been covered on a variety of news outlets and every blog on earth. Some of the bigger coverage:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/16/AR200708...

http://www.abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=3482054&page=1

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/technolo...

Guest's picture
Maria

I don't know. I read about this in Wired Magazine last week. Also, the Washington Post. It's been pretty well covered. Suffice it to say that even people who don't read this blog or MaltaStar have probably heard about it.

Andrea Karim's picture

One thing to keep in mind is that we don't know WHO actually edited the entries. Yeah, someone at Microsoft edited an XBox entry, but we don't know if it was Steve Ballmer or some peon who does art as a vendor for MS. The identity is made via blocks of registered IP addresses.

It's still great for laughs, ESPECIALLY when it's from the hallowed halls of Congress. But remember - the corporations did not, as an entity, rise up and make changes. It could be anyone behind that corporate firewall editing Wikipedia.

Guest's picture
brian

Stories like this make me smile like nothing else. I wonder how these companies feel, probably like a little kid getting caught with their hand in the cookie jar before dinner time. ;)

Andrea Karim's picture

Oooh, snap! Paul reaches thousands of readers per day, this is true. And you're right on about the decentralizing power of the interwebs. (My guess is, before the internet, Paul would have ended up on public access TV or NPR).

Ed O'Reilly's picture

Now, however, we have widespread and, more importantly, decentralized outlets that anybody can utilize. Information is now in the hands of the people.

You mean like Wikipedia?

It sounds to me like you're complaining that the major media outlets aren't as unbiased as we'd all like. So what? They never were!

I'm not complaining; but it is true, and it doesn't need to be that way if it weren't all about "maximizing shareholder value". And I think the "so what?" attitude is the natural outcome of what is typically exposure to desensitizing, often irrelevant and generally banal "news".

Guest's picture
Wake Up

The fact that this happens to Wikipedia is not very good, but not much can be done about it...

BUT -

The fact that these things can be discovered is a great thing and kudos to Wikipedia for making it possible. This is one sure thing that may actually prevent those edits...

Guest's picture
Guest

You look up your name on Wikipedia. Or your company's. You see negative information that you disagree with. You don't know who wrote it, but you don't want some random stranger posting these things as fact. You'd like to consider yourself an upstanding citizen, corporation, whatever. But since someone already beat you to the punch and posted something negative on Wikipedia, you're supposed to just deal with it? It exists on the web, better not touch it...

Seriously???

Andrea Karim's picture

I'm just curious, did you READ the coverage of this? We're not talking about editing out vicious lies that have been added to upstanding citizens' bios on Wikipedia. We're talking about lies being added. We're talking about defacing bios. By employees of news agencies, government organizations, and major corporations.

Of course slanderous information can be removed - but that's only if it's truly false. If you're a public figure, you can't expect to be completely free of criticism, with a blemish-free Wikipedia entry. And we're not talking about "fine, upstanding" citizens, here. We're talking about Bill O'Reilly.

Paul Michael's picture

It's warping the truth or removing it completely, not removing lies. If someone writes "Coca Cola kills orphans in Ethiopia to make room for industrial processing plants" then they should by all means remove it. But if facts are published, and I mean hard facts, which are then removed to paint a much more rosey picture of a company then that's just not fair. 

And as I've said before, I don't think it's fair to say that I reach way more people than I could have done in the 60's, because even if that's true the media wasn't as maniacal and widespread, and corporations weren't as prolific.
By the way, upstanding corporation should be an oxymoron. The whole goal, the one defining goal, of any corporation is to make money for the stockholders. That's it and that's all. 
Guest's picture
Guest

Interestingly enough, Wikipedia says that the creators of The Corporation distributed it for free on Bittorrent. It's also available on Google video.

Guest's picture
esvl

There goes wikipedia's credibility. Wikipedia once was the source for reading about almost what and where anything comes from. Now its just a upgraded tool for corporate companies to show how big they are and remove all remarks they might not like about truthful events or findings.

Guest's picture
Travis

I think that some here are missing the key point here. It has always been the obligation of the researcher to be skeptical. Wikipedia is certainly not, nor does it try to be, the end all be all source of knowledge. And it never will be. The problem arises when the uninformed take popular to mean reliable, or factual. I am not saying that Wikipedia doesn’t have some great information on it, but as with all information it can never truly be complete and all encompassing. Why does it matter if it is the corporation making malicious edits to present a rosey view or the individual railing the corporation for all the dirt they can dig up. Both view are biased, both can have credible facts support them. You have to make the decision on what it means to you, and what you deem to be the “Truth”

Guest's picture
Jasi

@John & Paul, re:What?
I can see a bit of what you mean, John. How would we spread this information pre-blog and YouTube? Pamphlets printed in my basement while my children slept and the laundry ran? How the mean old govt. is corrupt and big business is scamming the average family.

It's a different audience. There are an awful lot of us. We're tech savvy, we're wiser and it's completely "in" to be aware. We have a sense of humor and we fight via commerce, how and where we spend our money. A latte, a laptop and multitabbing at naptime. It's so much more civilized. I dig.

Guest's picture
The Chin

Wikipedia by its nature has always been open to abuse.

Why people trust it as an impartial source is beyond my ken.

Wikipedia is akin to a bathroom wall where anyone can add graffiti, from morons to even congressman and Microsoft execs.

Do you trust to be true what you read scrawled on a bathroom wall?

Just another example of the dumbing down of America.

Guest's picture
DonHx

Let's face it, Wikipedia is an information cesspool, not a reliable source source about anything, really.

Jimmy Wales idea of Neutral Point of View (NPOV) is one of the "big lies" of the 21st century, and Wikipedia is filled with biased, undocumented opinion passed off as fact.

Another lie about Wikipedia is that "everyone" can edit it it. The fact is, even well documented things are deleted by editors. And if 'everyone" can edit it, why not governments and corportaions? In the free market of ideas, the people in governments and corportaions should be able to express their documented views. Wikipedia eliminates such views because Wikipedia is so biased.

Wikipedia Scanner is nothing more than an intrusive spy tool. Virgil Griffith is no different than Bush, in my opinion, when it comes to violating privacy.

Guest's picture
Raymond

I've noticed on my blog that whenever I write about a particular brand or company, visitors originating from that company will later visit my site, according to my tracking information. I think companies are always monitoring internet traffic to ensure that their interests are protected and that the news and information is spinning favorably for them. It's rather disconcerting at times.

Guest's picture

A very interesting article and I agree with comments here that there should be a wiki page that shows the controversial chnages that have been made.

Guest's picture

Is anyone takes Wikipedia seriously ?
it is just public editable reference, just like the scratch paper that anyone can rewrite. To your amazement Wikipedia has 50/50 junk and good information, misleading and profane and at the end if you want to know something you go to respectable existing dictionaries.

Guest's picture
Em

I work at a leading university as director of the dissertations editing office (our students are ESL writers for the most part so we check to make sure eeverything is comprehensible). I see Wikipedia given in the footnotes all the time. I have brought up the matter with the board of directors-- I want them to ban the use of Wikipedia in theses and dissertations, but they said they did not want to micro-manage departments and advisors to that extent. It is exactly fodder like this I need to push my case along. Thank you.

Guest's picture
Guest

i thought the average joes were 99 of a hundred whose interest is not to know the truth for the benefit of the initiate

Guest's picture

In response to DonHx's comment, the Australian Government was caught out editing information about itself on Wikipedia. This possibly maybe because there is a Federal election soon but who knows. In response to Paul Michael's comments I agree. People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People’s heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool.

Guest's picture
Norakism

Corporations will always lie, but with Wikipedia it's harder for them to lie because they have to keep re-editing to counter edits by those citizens who tell the truth.

If Wikipedia didn't exist, corporations can publish expensive glossy ads in newspapers, magazines, television, etc where they cannot be edited by the general public.

Wikipedia brings down the barrier to information. Many criticize Wikipedia for being an unreliable source from which to cite, but what else is reliable? Books? Corporations publish books. Propaganda and misleading information is often spread through books. E.g. The Protocol of the Elders of Zion. So really there is no need for this prejudice against Wikipedia because it isn't a glossy, nice-looking media.

Paul Michael's picture

corporations still publish glossy ads, brochures, annual reports, TV ads and so on. The point here is that people take Wikipedia as a source of impartial information. Everyone knows a glossy mag or ad from a corporation will be one-sided, so they have their guards up. But if they believe Wikipedia to be an impartial source of information, their defenses are down and they are more likely to believe it.

Guest's picture
Guy N

is that it’s about shades of grey. Most of us don’t believe everything we see on the web, anyone who does has an antiquated conception of reality. There are no 100% reliable sources of information. Even the academically revered ‘peer reviewed’ journal system is flawed as it is strife with political intrigue and in-fighting (having said that, any academic report should rest solely upon the shoulders of peer reviewed articles if for no better reason then it’s tradition, as is the need to regurgitate mundane reports in academia - Self forfilling, no?). Basically, a source of information is reporting what he believes (which may or may not be ‘true’) or/and what he wants you to believe (which may or may not be ‘true’), this report may or may not be ‘validated’ by others in the field or interesting data/statistics/video/eye witnesses or by nothing but hearsay. This doesn’t mean that the report is necessarily ‘true’ or 'not true.' It only means that someone took the time (and not philanthropically; there is an agenda, the least of which could simply be self-validation) to report on something.

What your actually arguing about is levels of trust; whether wiki* is trustable. This depends soley on what you need the information for – if it’s a casual question of no real significance, then sure, wiki is a great first source for looking up something that may have come up in conversation. However if the question is important, most savvy internet users will search several web pages (some of which may be blog reports like this one, which, let’s face it, are the e-reincarnation of over-the-fence gossiping) to create a holistic impression from which to draw conclusions. This is the way people use the web as the web is interactive, not like being spoon fed items of ‘interest’ from the TV, paper or radio. With this in mind, it is always beneficial to know a little more about a source of information so that you can more ‘correctly’ create your holistic impression, and so I applaud Mr. Griffith along with Mr. Michael (as well as wiki* for just being there and doing its thing) while at the same time ‘tsking’ Mr. Michael for insinuating that the general public is gullible enough to believe that "if it’s on the web (and in this case, wiki*), it must be true… "

Guest's picture
Frankee

A tongue in cheek point of view but one that does hold some weight:

Knowledge is only the majority's line of thinking. ie. The world is round only because the majority of people believe it to be so. In several thousands of years much of what we KNOW to be true today may infact be found to be completely wrong.

Majority thought = Knowledge, therefore wikipedia = Fact

Guest's picture
Unimpressed

@Frankee

Your logic isn't exactly solid there... at all.

The Earth is "round" (I do believe it's wider around the equator than it as the poles)because science has shown us it is, not because most people think it is. Though, as we can learn from ancient misconceptions about a flat earth (or modern misconceptions on the same subject...)
Knowledge != Fact

And of course, if A = B, and B != C, then A != C...

Guest's picture
MediaSource

Why reference MaltaStar? Maltastar is an internet based news website funded by a Maltese political party. Except for local news, which is always composed by Maltastar news team, most international news are generally sourced from foreign news feeds, and understandably, only appear some time after the topic is reported foreign media.

Guest's picture
Luigison

Where can I get one of the Wiki globe key chains you pictured?

Guest's picture

Wikipedia has never been that reliable in my opinion because you never know if you are reading a page that was recently hit by vandals.

I used the scanner a few months ago to discover that both Prosper and Kiva (P2P Lending Websites) have removed criticisms about their services from Wikipedia. I know that several prosper employees visited my page on the topic. However, rather than just stop editing Wikipedia, people will likely start editing pages from home.

Guest's picture
Sarah

Okay, so people have made specious edits to Wikipedia.

But how many of those edits are still there?

Guest's picture

Most of you above have a pretty naive view of Wikipedia and of open content manipulation in general. Fact is, paid PR shills are increasingly paid to edit open content (very influential) and seed blogs with rumours and lies (thankfully much less influential since blogs have no capacity to create long term consulted resources). WikiScanner doesn't do much except show up some of the most naive and stupid liars, those who don't know how to use an IP proxy, hire a PR firm or even use a net cafe for Pete's sake. Getting caught editing from an internal IP address of an obviously conflicted entity will soon be a firing offence in any nefarious organization, they'll catch on fast enough to all the tricks Wikipedia trolls have used for years.

Paid trolls, however, are much more of a threat to open content since they can keep adapting their techniques regardless of cost and difficulty. Unpaid trolls (don't waste my time arguing that there is such a thing as a Wikipedia editor who is not a troll!) countering them will inevitably fall behind without huge numbers and a discipline of restoring neutrality and integrity as fast as possible. This discipline seems to be lax at Wikipedia now, with so many articles to track.

Even more nefarious is the prospect of manipulation of content used in formal courses and schooling. Open textbooks perhaps will end up containing quite a bit of corporate sponsored lies.

A few tactics that might help save open content and Wikipedia:

1. Suggest improvements to Wikiscanner including IP proximity checks so that, for instance, not just the NRA's head office but net cafes or public IP addresses in the same city can be "yellow flagged" as well as red flagging the ones from inside the NRA itself. If you have the skills to add these improvements or to mashup the Wikipedia page histories, do it. Wikiscanner needs a lot of help and a lot of competition if you want to be able even to see who is doing the most obvious manipulations.

2. When you find a particular manipulation of open content very offensive, write that organization and it's competitors. If it's the Australian Government, write the Official Opposition. If it's the NRA, write a few prominent gun control groups. Do your best to explain to them what tactics are being used and how you expect them, not you, to be monitoring Wikipedia effectively and exposing the liars and exploiting their lack of judgement to defeat them politically. Send them a few bucks or your business.

3. Boycott all organizations that repeatedly (that is, twice) engage in overt manipulation of open content. If you haven't already boycotted Exxon, for instance, there's something seriously wrong with your moral compass. If they do it three times, start organizing others to boycott that organization.

4. Set policies in your own organization against overt spin doctoring and promoting correction of factual errors in open content. Make clear employees are welcome to edit Wikipedia to insert useful research on their industry or technologies or on current events, but they have to meet journalistic standards of evidence (two credible sources at least) and avoid conflicts of interest. If they edit materials on the company, they must do it offsite and on their own authority, and keep confidentiality agreements, and explicitly do not have company support for this.

If you have employees, put up a big sign in your workplace, "do not promote the company or its services by telling lies or denying problems we know about internally - we will fire liars".

Make clear to all suppliers big and small that you expect this same standard from them. If you shift your fuel business off Exxon, for instance, send a polite letter to the board and to major shareholders explaining that frequent manipulations of open content to deny Exxon Valdez's long term effects and to cast unscientific doubt on climate change cost your business.

5. Teach your children how to debate: that it's important to debate politely and factually, and simply correct errors of fact and dispute faulty logic without emotionally responding to these.

But if they get suspended from school for beating up a kid who's repeatedly lying about them or one of their friends, make sure you back your kid up, and get the liar thrown out of school or (better) placed in foster care with better parents. A society that educates and tolerates liars is a dead society for sure. One that has no means to violently silence them will be very quickly exterminated by a new society with less tolerance, that will violently silence or suppress the entire liar-run civilization.

Let's try not to be that liar-run civilization that everyone hates and tries their best to destroy.

Guest's picture
dave

when i follow link to malta star it is listed as an attack site by mozilla and when i try to ignore notice ithen get message saying it does not exist

Guest's picture
acidhedz

None of it surprises me.
I only consider wiki to be a somewhat accurate source of information.

Guest's picture
Guest

Well, the Wikipedia paradigm of 'community contribution/editing' will, by nature, involve community viewpoints/opinions/spins, whether neutral, conflicting or sympathetic. The issue of the Exxon edits is a rather clear example of this problem. Exxon is a member of the community, Exxon is embarrassed by the Valdez incident, and whomever edited the Wikipedia entries clearly lost touch with the magnitude of the issues of the Valdez spill. That would be an example of conflicting viewpoints, and is also an argument in support of open editing; why debate each other on the subject? Similar issues exist for lower level Wikipedia entries, but the check and balance end of Wikipedia entries are often much less informed of the details of the lower level items; hence, some lower level entries can often be moderately inaccurate for years without corrections. After all, so many times through the years SINCE I was in school, I've learned that the textbooks which I had to read while I was IN school were not clearly presenting relevant details about "American History".

Guest's picture
Guest

the maltastar link http://www.maltastar.com/pages/msFullArt.asp?an=14323 is listed by AVG as a virus site?

Guest's picture
Schulze

Wikipedia is as legitimate as a Encyclopedia as ever.
As you correctly stated, everyone can edit a Wikipedia article.
So, every change that is made to a page can be restored. In the end, on the Wikipedia, truth prevailes.

(And, anyhow, where else should you search for facts? Microsoft Encarta? Don't make me laugh.)

Guest's picture

Thanks for sharing this really nice article, it is very interesting!

Guest's picture
Guest

dont open it!

dug from cache:

One American student sent major corporations, governments and even the Vatican on the defensive after coming up with Wikipedia Scanner, a software program that reveals who changed Wikipedia entries.
Wikipedia.com is an online encyclopedia edited by general users, who write articles on every imaginable subject. Since it is written by users, anyone can edit, delete and arrange the articles on Wikipedia.
What Virgil Griffith did was come up with a program that reveals who edits these articles, via a system where it scans the I.P address and cross-references it with the I.P. directory.

As soon as the software was launched on the internet, chaos erupted.
Among many revelations, Wikipedia Scanner reported that:
- Microsoft tried to cover up the XBOX 360 failure rate

- Apple edit Microsoft entries, adding more negative comments about its rival

- Bill Gates revenge? Microsoft edits Apple entries, adding more negative comments about its rival

- The Vatican edits Irish Catholic politician Gerry Adams page

- In the 9/11 Wikipedia article, the NRA added that “Iraq was involved in 9/11”

- Exxon Mobil edits spillages and eco-system destruction from oil spillages article

- FBI edits Guantanamo Bay, removing numerous pictures

- Oil company ChevronTexaco removes informative biodiesel article and deletes a paragraph regarding fines against the company

- Scientology removes criticism and negatives article from Scientology page

- Al Jazeera TV station adds that the foundation of Iraq was just as bad as the Holocaust

- Amnesty International removes negative comments

- Dell Computers deletes negative comments on customer services and removes a passage how the company outsources work to third world countries

- MySpace removes paragraph when their website was hacked

- EA Games deletes whole paragraphs of criticism about employment practices and business methods

- Dog breeding association deletes whole paragraphs about fatal attacks by dogs on humans
- US Republican Party changes the "Post-Saddam" section of the Baath Party article to a different account of the war, changing the language from "US-led occupation" to "US-led liberation"

- Fox News removes all controversial topics against the network from the Fox News page

- News of the World deletes a number of criticism against the paper

- Nestle removes negative comments on its business practices from its page

- UN address calls journalist Oriana Fallaci a racist ‘prostitute’

- Portuguese government removes entries about Prime Minister’s scandals

- DieBold, the company that controversially supplied computerised polling stations in the US elections, removes numerous paragraphs with negative comments

- Walmart removes criticism of outsourcing work. The retailer also changes negative paragraphs of underpaid workforce

- Sony removes harmful paragraphs against blu-ray systems

- Someone at Reuters calls Bush “a mass murderer”

- Coca Cola removes negative content about its effects

- British Conservative Party removes negative references of its MPs and deletes paragraph of the party’s old policies

- US University adds the “prestigious” adjective to its page

- Boeing edits from “Boeing is a leading American aircraft and aerospace manufacturer” to “Boeing is the leading American aircraft and aerospace manufacturer”

- MSN Search is “a major competitor to Google”. That’s what MSN added to their page

- BBC changes Blair's drink from coffee to vodka and his workout from the gym to the bedroom. Someone from the BBC also changes Bush’s page, changing the name from ”George Walker Bush” to “George Wan*** Bush”

- Someone from The Guardian edits the Wikipedia page of rival newspaper The Times. Originally in the article it is said that The Times sells more than The Guardian. After the edit, The Guardian sells more.
Griffith created the tool to "create minor public relations disasters for companies and organizations I dislike," he said on his web site. He admitted that it's impossible to be sure if the edits were made by someone working at one of the organizations, although the I.P. address reveals that they were made by someone with access to their network, he says.

Griffith came up with the idea when he "heard about Congressmen being caught for white-washing their Wikipedia pages," he said.

"If the edit occurred during working hours, then we can reasonably assume that the person is either an agent of that company or a guest that was allowed access to their network," he wrote.He said he believes that anonymous speech is important for open projects like Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia works fine today for "noncontroversial topics," he said, but tools like Wikipedia Scanner can help make the site more reliable for controversial topics, he said.

Guest's picture
shaggy

What really sucks is that the idiots who think wikipedia is a reliable source of information will probably never hear about this...

Guest's picture

Awesome pr campaign thats amazing, what a genius

Guest's picture
Guest

wow where is the proof, once again another person on the net slandering people because they are phucking leftist pigs afraid of others making more money, guess what, you got your way Obama is president and you loose your freedoms. hope you get what you wanted!

Guest's picture
ORLY?

Did you think that corporations wouldn't check their own Wiki page? That one was common sense.

Guest's picture
AnnJo

It can hardly be blamed if some people choose to believe it is something else. I use it frequently as a starting point in research, and for that, it's fantastic, but I would never dream of considering it factually authoritative, much less Truth with a capital T. Unlike most encyclopedias, you can refer to the discussion page and edit history to help figure out how much credit to give its text.

The ability to trace edit sources is a wonderful tool, although, like every other Wikipedia tool, it provides only limited information. Guest @49 gives a very interesting list of edit sources, but no explanation for why, on some, s/he says "someone at" the edit source, while on others, s/he omits that qualifier. In fact, all that Wikipedia Scanner can say about ALL of those edits is that they were done by "someone at" the source. Whether the edits were authorized by the corporation, organization, Congressperson, White House, etc. is anybody's guess.

Dislike of an edit source isn't evidence of authorized editing, or of false content in the edit either. Wal-mart's claims about its workforce are definitely going to be biased, but so will the claims of the Retail Clerks Union. Proof of bias is not proof of falsehood. It just tells you to be skeptical, which any sensible researcher already is.

Anonymous Troll @39 has a curious plan for what to teach our children about debate: do it politely and factually, unemotionally correcting errors of fact or faulty logic, and then beat up the liars - presumably those who do not agree with your factual recital or logic lesson - and get them expelled from school or removed from their families for appropriate re-education.

That's more than a little different from the rules of debate I learned. A society that "violently silence liars" (with the government presumably getting to choose who wears that label) sounds like one that Stalin, Saddam, Castro or Pol Pot would be quite at home in. O tempora o mores!

Guest's picture
Guest

Wikkipedia is full of ****