Can the web really forget? Twitterbot catches Russia Wikipedia edits

22/07/2014

The Russian government has reportedly been caught editing a Wikipedia page relating to crashed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and removing references to Russian involvement.

The Telegraph reports that a Russian-language Wikipedia page about civil aviation accidents was edited from within the government-run All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company.

The user wrote that "the plane [flight MH17] was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers".

That replaced an entry written just an hour earlier that said the plane had been shot down by “terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation."

The edits were uncovered by @RuGovEdits, a Twitter bot that automatically tweets every time Wikipedia is edited from a computer with a Russian government IP address.

An IP address is a unique number related to certain computers or networks.

All edits made to Wikipedia are permanently logged along with the editor’s username and IP address.

The move is a stark reminder to brands and organisations that the web is a difficult beast to control, and attempts to change records of past events is getting harder than ever. It also indicates just how revealing these little Wikipedia edit twitterbots can be.

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