Your tax dollars at work spinning wikipedia entries

I previously referred to wikiscanner here — the neat tool developed by Virgil Griffith that lets you detect whether governmental or corporate entities have been trying to change wikipedia entries.

Reuters now reports that CIA and FBI computers were used to try to entry wikipedia entries on Guantanamo and the Iraq War.

“Griffith said he developed WikiScanner ‘to create minor public relations disasters for companies and organizations I dislike (and) to see what ‘interesting organizations’ (which I am neutral towards) are up to.’ ” Looks like mission accomplished for Griffith.

Wikipedia has said that the entries may violate their conflict of interest policy that prhobits people with close ties to an issue to submit or edit an entry about it.

It will do wonders for trust of government to see that the government, having failed to convince the public that the Iraq War was a wise policy intervention, is now actively spinning wikipedia entries to try to re-define how the war and Guantanamo is captured by the ‘public.’

I liked the comments of Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia founder) that Wikipedia ought to add a feature when someone clicks on edit to say: “Hi, thank you for editing. We see you’re logged in from XXX company. Keep in mind that we know that, and it’s public information,’ ” he said. “That might make them stop and think.” (NYT story 8/19/07) Might be nice to combine Griffith’s wikiscanner applet with the color-coding of Wikipedia entries so that a different color would alert the reader of all corporately entered entries that might be government or corporate spin jobs, rather than having to go to Wikiscanner and find this out himself or herself. That way the user could hover over text that says *the Valdez oil spill was a tremendous boon for the environment* and see with a pop-up window that this was entered by Exxon.

Epilogue: the New York Times in Seeing Corporate Fingerprints in Wikipedia Edits (8/19/07) reported on this same phenomenon and noted that other corporations have been snared in Virgil Griffith’s software: Anheuser-Busch; Pepsico; and the perennial corporate villains from central casting Wal-Mart, Diebold, and Exxon.

One response to “Your tax dollars at work spinning wikipedia entries

  1. Pingback: Power of God, why permanence makes us happier, and wikiscanning « Social Capital Blog

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