Seeing Corporate Fingerprints in Wikipedia Edits

Seeing Corporate Fingerprints in Wikipedia Edits
By KATIE HAFNER
The New York Times
August 19, 2007
Last year a Wikipedia visitor edited the entry for the SeaWorld theme
parks to change all mentions of "orcas" to "killer whales," insisting
that this was a more accurate name for the species.
There was another, unexplained edit: a paragraph about criticism of
SeaWorld's "lack of respect toward its orcas" disappeared. Both
changes, it turns out, originated at a computer at Anheuser-Busch,
SeaWorld's owner.
Dozens of similar examples of insider editing came to light last week
through WikiScanner, a new Web site that traces the source of
millions of changes to Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia
that anyone can edit.
The site, wikiscanner.virgil.gr, created by a computer science
graduate student, cross-references an edited entry on Wikipedia with
the owner of the computer network where the change originated, using
the Internet protocol address of the editor's network. The address
information was already available on Wikipedia, but the new site
makes it much easier to connect those numbers with the names of
network owners.
Since Wired News first wrote about WikiScanner last week, Internet
users have spotted plenty of interesting changes to Wikipedia by
people at nonprofit groups and government entities like the Central
Intelligence Agency. Many of the most obviously self-interested edits
have come from corporate networks.
Last year, someone at PepsiCo deleted several paragraphs of the Pepsi
entry that focused on its detrimental health effects. In 2005,
someone using a computer at Diebold deleted paragraphs that
criticized the company's electronic voting machines. That same year,
someone inside Wal-Mart Stores changed an entry about employee
compensation.
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