E-reputation (translate, “online reputation”) is extremely important in the 21st century. We are looking for information: we go on the web. And very often, the first page to appear is that of Wikipedia. We click, we read, and we learn a lot. Problem: Not everything is true. Indeed, one of the big limits of this encyclopedia is that anyone can contribute to it… and inevitably, some try to turn this to their advantage. Fortunately for us, naive and innocent little beings, some are badly grilled!
1. Marlene Shiappa
“This article appears to be a page autobiographical or self-centered which has been substantially modified, either by the principal concerned or by a person closely related to the subject. “: the message posted by Wikipedia on the encyclopedic page of the Minister Delegate for Citizenship, since the end of January 2022. And it must be said that more than a quarter of the page was written by one of his advisers… According to Stop on images, of the 38 contributions of this famous Noaaah22 on the site in one year, 37 concern his boss. Just that. Comm level, we are ok. Transparency and objectivity level, a little less.
2. An American high school student
In 2008, this young man must return a work on The best of worlds by Aldous Huxley. To do it quickly and well (or not), he simply copy-pastes a large part of the Wikipedia page (basic). It could have ended like this, with a 0 and a punishment for cheating. BUT NO. To avoid being bullied by the teacher, he has the wonderful idea of replacing the online data with coarse text. Not crazy, the wasp! Unfortunately for him (luckily for the others), a volunteer from the site notices the deception… Oopsiiiiii, in addition to a bad note, he will also have taken a good soap.
In about ten years, more than 85 IP addresses, identified as belonging to New York police computers, have modified Wikipedia articles to their advantage. Obviously, the vast majority of the elements relate to serious NYPD blunders, including stories like that of Eric Garner or Sean Bell, killed by agents.
In 2007, this IT giant outright paid a freelancer to edit an article about its Open XML technology. Microsoft suspects that this critical text was commissioned by the competition (IBM), and wishes to turn it to its advantage. Caught red-handed by Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, the mission is aborted. Since then, paid contributors must report themselves.
Ahhhh, Russia. In 2014, the country led by Vladimir Putin modified an article on the tragedy of Malaysia Airlines 17 (the plane shot down in eastern Ukraine by a missile of unknown origin). Kiev very clearly accuses “terrorists from the self-proclaimed Republic of Donetsk, with missiles from the Russian Federation” on Wikipedia. An assertion that does not pass among the Russians. They edit and blame it on Ukrainian soldiers.
A little sleight of hand updated through a Twitter bot, programmed to post as soon as an edit is posted to the online encyclopedia by a Russian government IP address. WOW, right?
6. The Church of Scientology
By dint of modifying its page H24 to its advantage, the sect was even banned from the British Wikipedia in 2008! For six months, all the IP addresses coming from one of their computers could no longer access the site, a way of preventing Tom Cruise and his little friends from turning everything to their advantage… A censorship which, however, was quickly lifted.
According to the Owni site, the pages of Jean-Pierre Pernaut, Patrick Poivre-d’Arvor and JP Foucault have been redecorated several times, between 2009 and 2012. Still according to this source, the modifications were made by IP addresses located at the headquarters of the national channel. Few additions, but many details removed from the biographies: the love and family relationships of the presenters, certain arrangements with journalistic ethics, Foucault’s proximity to anti-abortion associations and against gay marriage,… Only stuff cool, what!
8. Pol Van Den Driessche, deputy of the Flemish party N-VA (Belgian liberal right)
In 2014, he simply decided to transform the writings on his electoral results, factually exposed, into “surprisingly high”. Worse, it changes the term “allegations of sexual intimidation” to add “alleged.” Since then, all changes have been reverted. Thank God.