Propaganda battles in Washington D.C. have reached a new high-tech level with the revelations that staffers have been altering the Wikipedia profiles of politicians.
Wikipedia is the online encyclopedia written and edited by volunteers. But the strength of its open source style has also become its weakness as staffers have taken advantage of its vulnerabilities.
Appropriately Wikinews, an outgrowth of Wikipedia, has an item up about its investigation into aides altering Wikipedia profiles.
Among the alleged changes:
– References to Joe Biden’s plagiarism scandal were removed, presumably by his supporters.
– Remember when Senator Conrad Burns referred to Arabs as “ragheads”? Well, his office apparently doesn’t want you to remember that because that reference was removed from his Wikipedia profile. A spokesman for Burns told The Washington Post that this a non-story since “there is no sanctity in Wikipedia.”
– The office of California Senator Diane Feinstein said Thursday that a staffer “independently” removed comments from her Wikipedia profile that could reflect poorly on her.
– A paragraph about Senator Tom Harkin’s having falsely claimed to have flown combat missions over North Vietnam was removed. Mention of his stance on Israel was also removed.
– And my favorite change: Senator Tom Coburn was listed as having been voted “the most annoying senator.”
Investigators are tracking down what computers were used to make the alterations by examining the IP addresses. However, that can’t be done as easily for the House of Representatives since they all use a proxy server.
This isn’t the first time Wikipedia has come under fire, as Bill Wallo of BlogCritics wrote in a piece last year.
The site’s founder, Jimmy Wales, has not helped matters by admitting he has edited his own profile from time to time. He said doing so was “in bad taste.”