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Wikipedia edits traced to CIA, Vatican


Wikipedia edits traced to CIA, Vatican AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE - SAN FRANCISCO — A hacker's homemade program to pinpoint origins of Wikipedia edits indicates that alterations to the popular online encyclopedia have come from the CIA and the Vatican.

Virgil Griffith's "Wikiscanner" points to CIA computers as the sources of nearly 300 edits to subjects including Iran's president, the Argentine navy and China's nuclear arsenal.

A CIA computer was the source of a whiny "Wahhhhhh!" inserted in a paragraph about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's plans for the office.

"While I cannot confirm whether any changes were made from CIA computers, the agency always expects its computer systems to be used responsibly," CIA spokesman George Little said in response to an AFP inquiry.

Wikipedia is a communally refined Internet encyclopedia that taps into the "wisdom of the masses" by letting anyone make changes.

Mr. Griffith, a graduate student and self-described hacker, said his software matches unique "IP" addresses of computers with Wikipedia records regarding which machines are used to make online edits.

"I came up with the idea when I heard about congressmen getting caught for whitewashing their Wikipedia pages," he explains on his Web site.

Most edits listed at Wikiscanner involve minor changes such as spelling. Some alterations involve removing unflattering information, adding facts or inserting insults.

Wikiscanner's roster indicates a Vatican computer was used to remove references to evidence linking Ireland's Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to a decades-old double homicide.

Someone at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee changed a description of conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh to replace "comedian" with "bigot" and dub his listeners "legally retarded."

"We don't condone these sorts of activities, and we take every precaution to ensure our network is used in a responsible manner," committee spokesman Doug Thornell told AFP.

A Republican Party computer purportedly was used after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to change "occupying forces" to "liberating forces" in a Ba'ath Party entry.

Someone using a Senate computer altered a profile of veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas to complain she "interrupts" and is annoying.

A computer belonging to Reuters news service is listed as adding "mass murderer" to a Wikipedia description of President Bush.

But Mr. Griffith still considers the Wikipedia model to be reliable.

"Overall — especially for non-controversial topics — Wikipedia already works," he said.

"For controversial topics, Wikipedia can be made more reliable through techniques like this one ... to counteract vandalism and disinformation," Mr. Griffith said.


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Comment by pacattack05 - August 20, 2007, 9:49 pm
I saw that on coastocoast with george broony...lol      Cloony....whatever...Noorie?

I'm not surprised, but it's reaffirming the beliefs I've been likened to for a while now.

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