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August 18, 2007

WikiScanner reveals biased edits of Wikipedia

I met Virgil Griffith, a graduate student at CalTech in cognitive science (but also a skilled computer hacker), earlier this year while he was visiting SFI to work with Eric Smith and Doyne Farmer.

Virgil's gotten himself quite a bit of coverage over a simple piece of software he wrote (apparently at least partially while he was at SFI) called WikiScanner that simply pushes the IP addresses of the editors of a particular wikipedia page against things like the the WHOIS database (for example, here) and a geolocation algorithm for IP address (such as ip2location.com) to find out whether certain, achem, interested parties are editing certain pages related to their interests. Predictably, many corporations, from PepsiCo to ExxonMobile to FoxNews, have removed portions (typically the unfavorable bits) of the wikipedia articles about themselves.

Well done, Virgil, well done.

I think Wired wrote the first story, but there's now an ABC news story and a NYTimes story, too.

posted August 18, 2007 08:40 PM in Political Wonk | permalink