Companies and Feds Caught With Their Hand in the Wikipedia Cookie Jar

Do you believe everything you read on Wikipedia? You wouldn’t if you knew who was changing what. Recently Cal Tech computation and neural-systems graduate student Virgil Griffith did a little sleuthing and uncovered some very scary data on who is editing articles on Wikipedia and what they are changing.

Griffith created a searchable database tying millions of anonymous Wikipedia edits to organizations where those edits apparently originated. By cross-referencing the edits with data on who owns the associated block of internet IP addresses he was able to ascertain who which organizations were editing articles.

One of the most interesting was Diebold who removed large swathes of articles by security professionals critical of the companies voting machine technology.

Here are some other interesting changes made to Wikipedia.

Republican Party Spins Post-Saddam Iraq
Someone at the Republican Party HQ changed the entry on the history of Iraq’s Baath Party from “US-led occupying forces” to “US-led liberating forces.”

Texas Attorney General criticizes (and redefines) use of ‘Insurgency’ in Iraq
In the talk section about the term Insurgency, someone from the Texas Attorney General office declares that “The violence being perpetrated in Iraq is not an insurgency… The mass media press refers to the terrorists as insurgents since to call them by their rightful name would be to admit that the U.S. and its allies ARE fighting the war on terrorism.”

Tulsa church edits “Origin of Species”
Creationists edit “Origin of Species” article to say it is an “arguably mostly fictional” work. They also add completely fictional claims that Darwin argued that “There are no limitations to natural selection” and “All species evolved through natural selection from a single cell that lived 3.6 billion years ago” which are not in any way, shape, or form in Darwin’s writings (any of them). So much for no bearing false witness.

Dell removes spyware accusations
They remove content which claims their PC’s come with lots of promotional and spyware-like software.

You can check out more of what’s being edited over at and read the full article by Wired Magazine over at