The open-to-editing information website Wikipedia has been the victim of self-serving censorship by politicians, corporations, and even churches and other non-profit organizations, Robert Verkaik reports for the Independent Online:
The chance to rewrite history in flattering and uncritical terms has proved too much of a temptation for scores of multinational companies, political parties and well-known organisations across the world.
If a misdemeanour from a politician’s colourful past becomes an inconvenient fact at election time then why not just strike it from the Wikipedia record? Or if a public company is embarking on a sensitive takeover why should its investors know of the target business’s human rights abuses?
Now a website designed to monitor editorial changes made on Wikipedia has found thousands of self-serving edits and traced them to their original source. It has turned out to be hugely embarrassing for armies of political spin doctors and corproate revisionists who believed their censorial interventions had gone unnoticed.
Some of the guilty parties identified by the website, such as the Labour Party, the CIA, Republican Party and the Church of Scientology, are well-known for their obsession with PR. But others, such as the Anglican and Catholic churches or even the obscurely titled Perro de Presa Canario Dog Breeders Association of America, are new to the dark arts of spin.
Read the entire article at the link above. Apparently people still believe just because they do something “anonymously” on the web that it cannot be traced back to them. Wrong.
Now, there are some times when editing your own entry isn’t nefarious – no one wants to see inaccurate information posted about them, especially if it’s negative. Many of the changes noted by the new software are anything but such benign corrections, though – editing out “inconvenient truths,” if you will.
Fortunately, the mere existence of this function (detecting who made changes) will tend to discourage some future abuses before they are attempted. Not all, though: there is never a shortage of those who don’t think they’ll be caught in whatever they’re doing . . .