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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat

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    The Truth, or is it?

    Wikipedia 'shows CIA page edits'

    By Jonathan Fildes
    Science and technology reporter, BBC News


    The tool detected changes to a page about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

    An online tool that claims to reveal the identity of organisations that edit Wikipedia pages has revealed that the CIA was involved in editing entries.
    Wikipedia Scanner allegedly shows that workers on the agency's computers made edits to the page of Iran's president.
    It also purportedly shows that the Vatican has edited entries about Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.
    The tool, developed by US researchers, trawls a list of 5.3m edits and matches them to the net address of the editor.
    Wikipedia is a free online encyclopaedia that can be created and edited by anyone.
    Most of the edits detected by the scanner correct spelling mistakes or factual inaccuracies in profiles. However, others have been used to remove potentially damaging material or to deface sites.
    Mistaken identity
    On the profile of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the tool indicates that a worker on the CIA network reportedly added the exclamation "Wahhhhhh!" before a section on the leader's plans for his presidency.
    A warning on the profile of the anonymous editor reads: "You have recently vandalised a Wikipedia article, and you are now being asked to stop this type of behaviour."
    It is claimed the entry was changed by a CIA computer user


    Other changes that have been made are more innocuous, and include tweaks to the profile of former CIA chief Porter Goss and celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey.
    When asked whether it could confirm whether the changes had been made by a person using a CIA computer, an agency spokesperson responded: "I cannot confirm that the traffic you cite came from agency computers.
    "I'd like in any case to underscore a far larger and more significant point that no one should doubt or forget: The CIA has a vital mission in protecting the United States, and the focus of this agency is there, on that decisive work."
    Radio change
    The site also indicates that a computer owned by the US Democratic Party was used to make changes to the site of right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
    The changes brand Mr Limbaugh as "idiotic," a "racist", and a "bigot". An entry about his audience now reads: "Most of them are legally retarded."
    We really value transparency and the scanner really takes this to another level


    Wikipedia spokesperson


    The IP address is registered in the name of the Democratic National Headquarters.
    A spokesperson for the Democratic Party said that the changes had not been made on its computers. Instead, they said that the "IP address is the same as the DCCC".
    The DCCC, or Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is the "official campaign arm of the Democrats" in the House of Representatives and shares a building with the party.
    "We don't condone these sorts of activities and we take every precaution to ensure that our network is used in a responsible manner," Doug Thornell of the DCCC told the BBC News website.
    Mr Thornell pointed out that the edit had been made "close to two years ago" and it was "impossible to know" who had done it.
    Voting issue
    The site also indicates that Vatican computers were used to remove content from a page about the leader of the Irish republican party Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams.
    Wikipedia already collects the IP address or username of editors


    The edit removed links to newspaper stories written in 2006 that alleged that Mr Adams' fingerprints and handprints were found on a car used during a double murder in 1971.
    The section, titled "Fresh murder question raised" is no longer available through the online encyclopaedia.
    Wikipedia Scanner also points the finger at commercial organisations that have modified entries about the pages.
    One in particular is Diebold, the company that supplied electronic voting machines for the controversial US election in 2000.
    In October 2005, a person using a Diebold computer removed paragraphs about Walden O'Dell, chief executive of the company, which revealed that he had been "a top fund-raiser" for George Bush.
    A month later, other paragraphs and links to stories about the alleged rigging of the 2000 election were also removed.
    The paragraphs and links have since been reinstated.
    Diebold officials have not responded to requests by the BBC for information about the changes.
    Web history
    The Wikipedia Scanner results are not the first time that people have been uncovered editing their own Wikipedia entries.
    Wikipedia Scanner may prevent an organisation or individuals from editing articles that they're really not supposed to


    Wikipedia spokesperson


    Earlier this year, Microsoft was revealed to have offered money to experts to trawl through entries about the company and its products to make corrections.
    Staff at the US Congress have also previously been exposed for editing and removing sensitive information about politicians.
    An inquiry was launched after staff for Democratic representative Marty Meehan admitted polishing his biography
    The new tool was built by Virgil Griffith of the California Institute of Technology.
    It exploits the open nature of Wikipedia, which already collects the net address or username of editors and tracks all changes to a page. The information can be accessed in the "history" tab at the top of a Wikipedia page.
    By merging this information with a database of IP address owners, Wikipedia Scanner is able to put a name to the organisation and firms from which edits are made.
    The scanner cannot identify the individuals editing articles, admits Mr Griffith.
    "Technically, we don't know whether it came from an agent of that company, however, we do know that edit came from someone with access to their network," he wrote on the Wikipedia Scanner site.
    A spokesperson for Wikipedia said the tool helped prevent conflicts of interest.
    "We really value transparency and the scanner really takes this to another level," they said.
    "Wikipedia Scanner may prevent an organisation or individuals from editing articles that they're really not supposed to."
    Nothing is safe. Turn off your computers. Use only carrier pigeons. Do not email anything.

  2. #2
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    Cujo's Avatar
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    Never liked wkipedia anyway. An encyclopepia anyone can edit?
    I don't think so. Too much leeway for erroneous information. Whenever anyone cites it as a source I discard the theory.

  3. #3
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    sabang's Avatar
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    I think your sentiment is misplaced Cujo.
    Whilst I do not discount the possibility of Wiki being manipulated short term (it has indeed happened), it is a readily available source of knowledge and information for the people.
    What is wrong with that?

  4. #4
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    Marmite the Dog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [SIZE=2]an agency spokesperson[/SIZE]
    The CIA has a vital mission in protecting the United States, and the focus of this agency is there, on that decisive work.
    Very funny.

    Shouldn't that be "The CIA has a vital mission in making a mess of the rest of the world and fucking with the internal affairs of sovereign nation states, and the focus of this agency is there, on that decisive work."

    Kunts.

  5. #5
    Thailand Expat AntRobertson's Avatar
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    ^^
    I agree with that. It's a useful resource and I don't see why it should simply be dismissed out of hand. It's like anything else, you read it with an open mind and question what it says. No different from any text book in that regard.

  6. #6
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    I kind of look at Wiki as the sort of information I'd get from a reliable friend. Probably OK, but we're all human and there are more than enough jerks around who revel in messing things up.

    But, if you think that erroneous information stays on Wiki very long; go ahead an edit a page with something you know to be in error and see how long it stays. (Might use a proxy....)

    For example, many of the Wiki pages on specific locations have a section entitled "Notable Residents". An old friend of mine put his name on the list for Notable Residents of Saipan. It was there for about a day.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cujo View Post
    Never liked wkipedia anyway. An encyclopepia anyone can edit?
    I don't think so. Too much leeway for erroneous information. Whenever anyone cites it as a source I discard the theory.
    So that wiki stuff about sex and prostitution in Pattaya is all CIA smoke & mirrors???!!!

    I knew it! I knew it! I knew it!

  8. #8
    I am in Jail

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    If we didn't have Wiki, most of us here, when asked our opinion on something very obscure, would not have the first idea what it was we were ven being asked. Okay, sometimes it's wrong but I would hazard a guess that over 90% of the time it's not. Also, it says on most pages that any dubious information requires a 'clean up' or 'verification' or even a direct source if it's a reader contribution.

    Wiki gets my vote.

    The CIA are all over it - so what? They're not the only ones. Wouldn't you be if it was your job to protect the country? Of course you would, in must the same way a mod oversees what happens on TD. If you're wondering at all about global communications, don't think for one minute that everything isn't being monitored.

  9. #9
    I am in Jail

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    I have never liked Wiki or used it as a source. For fun, OK, but why read or rely on something that may be false or misconstrued to sway a reader's opinion? I just went on the site and checked on two rather obscure Japanese topics (an author, Akutagawa Ryunosuke, and the battle of Sekigahara). I disagree with the literary description of the author's work. And I really hate it when folks put in statistics for something that happened 407 feking years ago (in this case, troop numbers -- hey, Honda-san's army was more than 500, which throws Tokugawa's troop count of 30,000 outta whack. And then how do you know how many other numbers and info are wrong?). Grrrr. As soon as they add stats, I really start to get antsy.

    I'm donating some funds to my alma mater for students to travel to Japan. They gotta write a 2,000 word essay on why they wanna go and what they wanna do. If they use Wiki as a reference, they will be immediately disqualified. Fek, it's my funding. I finally get to have a say in something.
    Last edited by Jet Gorgon; 17-08-2007 at 12:51 AM. Reason: change my mind about something.

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