Researcher: US Gov't Editing Wikipedia Entries

Entries in Wikipedia involving subjects such as the Iraq War and Guantanamo Bay have been edited by individuals using FBI and CIA computers, a scanning program indicates.

The researcher says he created the application to "to create minor public relations disasters for companies and organizations I dislike" and see if others are attempting to edit Wikipedia entries that may involve them, according to an interview with the Associated Press on Thursday.

Called WikiScanner, it can be used to discover the identities of those who edit Wikipedia pages. The application was developed by researcher Virgil Griffith of the Santa Fe Institute, who used it to discover that some sensitive entries might have been edited by government officials.

It is not clear who edited the Wikipedia entries, but Griffith says in the least they were edited by people with access to the government networks. The FBI was not available to comment on the discovery, while the CIA could not confirm whether its computers were used.

Editing a page with an issue or topic close to an organization or person is in direct violation of Wikipedia polices. However, often the site does not actively search out those who do as its legions of entry editors often find and delete questionable material on their own.

In this case, FBI computers were used to remove aerial images showing the US terrorist prison camp in Guantanamo Bay. CIA computers were used to beef up the accomplishments of former chief William Colby, as well as editing a graphic on casualties to indicate the numbers presented were only estimates.

Those wishing to try the application can access it on the Web at wikiscanner.virgil.gr.

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