Wikipedia Accuses PR Firm of Slanting Entries
It orders 'Wiki-PR' to stop editing pages
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Nov 21, 2013 4:05 PM CST
A screenshot from Wiki-PR's homepage.   (Wiki-PR)

(Newser) – The foundation that runs Wikipedia is calling out a PR firm that it believes is in the business of biasing Wikipedia entries for its clients. Its first hint? The firm is called "Wiki-PR." The Wikimedia Foundation sent a "cease and desist" letter to the firm, ordering it to stop editing pages, after discovering at least 300 "sock puppet" accounts tracing back to it, a spokesperson tells the Independent. It also accused the firm of "meat puppetry," which is to say using fake accounts to argue your point in online discussions.

Wikipedia first announced that it was looking into the potential sock-puppetry-for-cash scheme last month, in the wake of this Daily Dot article, which dubbed Wiki-PR "Wikipedia's biggest sockpuppet army." On its website, Wiki-PR touts itself as "the easy way to accurately tell your story on Wikipedia," offering services including page creation, page monitoring, and "crisis editing." A spokesman for the company said that "Wiki-PR is working with the Wikimedia Foundation and its counsel to sort this out."

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Showing 3 of 12 comments
Alex Konanykhin
Nov 27, 2013 10:53 AM CST
Uploading false info on Wikipedia or elsewhere is bad, but it shall not be confused with legitimate Wikipedia visibility services. If some lawyer were caught committing fraud on the court, nobody would argue that all legal services shall be prohibited nationwide. Similarly, sockpuppeting and faking sources is NOT what legitimate Wikipedia visibility services are about. Wikipedia traffic is commerce-dominated nowadays. 21 out of the 25 highest-traffic articles on Wikipedia are related to commercial subjects: corporations, movies, books, TV series, etc. A Wikipedia profile can add or detract tens of millions of dollars from the value of a brand or market cap of a company, so it’s to be expected that companies seek to participate in shaping their Wikipedia profiles. It comes as a surprise to many, but paid editing is NOT prohibited on Wikipedia; all efforts to ban it have failed: (see the FAILED policy proposal at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Paid_editing_%28policy%29) Not only it’s not prohibited, it’s massive: in a recent study conducted by the Public Relations Society of America, 40% of PR professionals admitted to having edited Wikipedia.(http://www.mediabistro.com/prnewser/study-wikipedia-errors-damage-brands-reputations_b73200) In other words, hundreds of thousands of PR pros do Wikipedia visibility work. The study also showed that "24% of company pages were created by a PR team". I suspect that the true percentage is much higher, as many companies and PR pros do not admit editing Wikipedia fearing the backlash from those who equate PR with spreading lies. At WikiExperts, we have done ethical Wikipedia visibility work for some of the largest corporations in the world, never violating any Wikipedia rule.
Parker Gabriel
Nov 26, 2013 3:46 PM CST
What about the articles themselves? Do THEY ever even tell any more than part of the story? Who wrote the first versions of them, and what were they supposed to be about in the first place? That's where the problem STARTS.
iq145
Nov 23, 2013 1:22 PM CST
This is common, even with average persons who've taken a dislike toward any organization or individual. Anyone is allowed to "edit" as they personally see fit. i know because i've had dozens of my pages tainted and even vandalized.