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Companies Altering Wikipedia to Remove Negative Views

by August 30, 2007
These arent the entries youre looking for

These aren't the entries you're looking for

According to reports on Video Business on Line and Wired, a recently developed database that tracks anonymous Wikipedia entry changes back to their originating IP address is uncovering some interesting corporate activity.

Video Business OnLine: DRM Criticism? What Criticism? And Other Wikipedia Fun

Wired: See Who's Editing Wikipedia - Diebold, the CIA, a Campaign

WikiScanner, written by Virgil Griffith, a Cal Tech graduate student in computation and neural-systems, is a publicly searchable database that allows anonymous Wikipedia edits to be tracked back to their originating IP address.

Wikiscanner: List anonymous wikipedia edits from interesting organizations

Wikipedia: WikiScanner

Wikipedia is a well know open source encyclopedia project that allows collaboration of anyone to record collective knowledge. The project relies on many thousands of volunteers from around the world with an operating principle that the large and open editorial base will ultimately lead to balanced articles with all points of view able to contribute. Wikipedia, itself, is fairly straight forward about the advantages and limitations of such a system. While contributors are not required to give personal information, an extensive system for tracking data on article edits is in operation and WikiScanner makes use of this data.

Using WikiScanner, Wikipedia users are discovering a wide range of companies, organizations, and public figures that have been taking advantage of the open format of Wikipedia to remove or slant unfavorable content in certain articles to their own ends. Wired has started a web page to tally discoveries of the most egregious abuses.

Wired: Vote On the Most Shameful Wikipedia Spin Jobs -- UPDATED

While WikiScanner does not conclusively prove that any given company is making edits as corporate policy, it does show that someone with access to the corporate network is making changes from company computers. Some of the more interesting edits from player in the A/V industry:

  • MPAA, Sony, and Disney are busy removing criticisms of DRM in the main article and in the Blu-ray article

  • Sony is adding some PR to an article on an upcoming Columbia Pictures release

  • Apple has a few things to say about Microsoft

  • Dell is removing criticisms that some bundled software behaves as spyware

  • Blockbuster is putting advertisements into their article

  • Best Buy is removing links to critical websites, updating the Radio Shack page for recent store closures, and putting a spin on purchasing additional software

  • Circuit City altered the Best Buy page to say that their stock values are falling daily

The full list and links to the edits are available by following the link to the Wired list provided above.

About the author:
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Professionally, David engineers building structures. He is also a musician and audio enthusiast. David gives his perspective about loudspeakers and complex audio topics from his mechanical engineering and HAA Certified Level I training.

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