CIA, FBI computers used for Wikipedia edits

Posted by Kendall Harmon

People using CIA and FBI computers have edited entries in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia on topics including the Iraq war and the Guantanamo prison, according to a new tracing program.

The changes may violate Wikipedia's conflict-of-interest guidelines, a spokeswoman for the site said on Thursday.

The program, WikiScanner, was developed by Virgil Griffith of the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico and posted this month on a Web site that was quickly overwhelmed with searches.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet

Posted August 17, 2007 at 5:38 am

To comment on this article: Go to Article View

The URL for this article is

1. RoyIII wrote:

Probably means that the information in the edit is wrong!

August 17, 8:07 am | [comment link]
2. justinmartyr wrote:

Nice one, Roy!

August 17, 10:20 am | [comment link]
3. The_Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

I’ve never trusted Wikipedia for this exact reason. Factual truth by majority hacking is suspect from the get go.

The Archer of the Forest+

August 17, 11:17 am | [comment link]
4. Sherri wrote:

I’m with you Archer. To me, it is irresponsible, too, to post information, then note that it has not been documented. How many people will take it as read, thinking it wouldn’t be up there if they weren’t pretty sure it was true. As if.

August 17, 12:13 pm | [comment link]
5. TheWafflingAnglican wrote:

Hmm - articles on the Iraq war and Club Gitmo by people who actually know what’s going on there!  Next thing you know, there will be proof that articles on the structure of DNA and the synthesis of dimethyl phthalate were actually written or edited from computers at the Chemistry Department!  There’s no telling where the scandal might lead!


August 17, 1:57 pm | [comment link]
6. justinmartyr wrote:


I think that the discussion is about intent and motive. I agree with you that the people at ‘Club Gitmo’ know more about what happens there than the people who aren’t. However, you’re likely to get two very different stories from Gitmo residents: the one from the guards, and the other from the prisoners.

August 17, 2:10 pm | [comment link]
7. RoyIII wrote:

The Wikipedia information on the Patrick O’Brian Jack Aubrey historical novels [Master and Commander, et al] is accurate.  The FBI and CIA types probably aren’t literate enough to get in there and mess that entry up.

August 17, 2:26 pm | [comment link]
8. Andrew717 wrote:

Some artivcles are quite accurate, others attract wackos of all stripes.  Just look at the Stalina rticle, say, and read the vast feuding over whether they can call that monster a “dictator” or not.  A good rule of thumb is the more obscure the subject, the less political, and the less it will attract the notice of bored undergrads the more accurate it will be.

August 17, 3:05 pm | [comment link]
9. TheWafflingAnglican wrote:

I agree.  I simply believe the Gitmo guards, who are the sons and daughters of the folks next door or across town, over the claims of a bunch of enemy dynamiters and francs-tireurs whose goal is to take down my country.  I know people in the FBI, the Army, and the Marines - don’t currently know anyone with recent CIA experience.  I trust them the same as I trust someone from the Chemistry Dept.  They can be wrong, and suffer the same faults and failings as the rest of us, but they are honorable men (and women) who do their best on a daily basis, for relatively (at best) low pay, to defend and protect a lot of people who don’t give a damn.
I can’t help wondering if your comments on the literacy of FBI and CIA folk might just represent a wee bit of projection.

August 17, 3:14 pm | [comment link]
10. Ross wrote:

There’s the question of how well the CIA or FBI folks know the situation in Iraq and at Gitmo—better than most of us, probably.  There is also a question of what information about those situations they want disseminated to the public.  Having specific knowledge makes them more qualified to edit the Wikipedia articles; having an agenda makes their edits suspect.

I read that Wikipedia had to put a block on edits originating from IP addresses belonging to Congressional offices.  This was because staff members of various Congresspeople were getting into edit wars with staff members of other Congresspeople over the articles about their rival representatives.

As for Wikipedia in general, I find it a useful resource if you use it with caution.  It’s often a good place to start researching a topic, but a lousy place to stop.  And for certain specific kinds of information it’s peerless: if you want a list of every character ever named in any Star Wars movie, book, comic, game, or tie-in, for instance, then Wikipedia has you covered smile

Who am I?  Visit my web page or my blog  to find out.

August 17, 4:42 pm | [comment link]

© 2014 Kendall S. Harmon. All rights reserved.

For original material from Titusonenine (such as articles and commentary by Dr. Harmon) permission to copy and distribute free of charge is granted, provided this notice, the logo, and the web site address are visible on all copies. For permission for use in for-profit publications, please email KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com

<< Back to main page

<< Return to Mobile view (headlines)