From daily The Independent in Britain:
Cabinet Office investigating origin of ‘vandalism’
A post about ‘killing or enslaving’ black people is among a growing list of Wikipedia edits traced to Government offices.
Revelations that derogatory comments were written about the Hillsborough disaster from the Government’s secure computer network sparked outrage last week, prompting an urgent review.
“Blame Liverpool fans” was written on the main webpage about the tragedy, in which 96 people were crushed to death in a crowd during the FA Cup semi-final game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989.
One shows a person wrote about “killing or enslaving” black people on the entry for Howick Falls in South Africa. The article also suggests that black people are uncivilised and believe “hearsay and myth”.
The revisions, made in November 2006, were quickly deleted by a moderator.
Separately, the IT system was used in December 2006 to edit the entry for Manchester to read: “Heralded as the ‘w*****s capital of the North’.”
The city’s page had earlier been altered by a user on the Government’s Secure Intranet (GSI) to say: “Considered by many of its citizens to be England’s second city (if Leeds and Birmingham didn’t exist)”.
Both changes were quickly spotted by the site’s editors and reversed. These records show that offensive comments about Liverpool FC from GSI users were not limited to the Hillsborough Disaster.
Around the same time, the Wikipedia page for Clydebank was also vandalised by a GSI user, with the words: “It is known locally as a total s***hole”.
In September 2013, a GSI user edited the Wikipedia profile of Canadian novelist and reporter David Gilmour to make offensive remarks about him.
The highly defamatory changes were reversed within minutes. More trivial changes made from Government computers include the recent update of Annan Athletic footballer Josh Todd’s profile to reflect recently scored goals.
Another official user took to the site to change the article for Grey’s Anatomy to describe the hit TV series as “overrated” and a “euphemism for an old mans netherregions”.
In May 2013 a GSI user bizarrely altered an entry about ‘Peanut gallery’, typically the cheapest seats in a theatre, to contain a reference to testicles.
Around the same time, the Wikipedia page for the Valhalla pleasure beach in Blackpool was edited by Government computers 13 times in one day. A more recent amendment even saw a GSI user change Barry Manilow‘s full name to “Barry Alan Big Daddy Pincus”.
Wikipedia records its editor’s IP addresses, their online footprint, and automatically creates a page that logs the activity linked to that address.
As the GSIses a set of fixed, published IP addresses, it is possible to see the editing history of all of the Government’s public-facing machines.
The site also keeps all of the historical versions of its encyclopedia entries going back to their creation, meaning that it is possible to compare the contents of each page before and after changes.
Users of the Government Secure Intranet have been repeatedly warned by Wikipedia’s administrators not to vandalise the site’s articles. A notice on the personalised page seen by users of the Government network says: “This IP address has been repeatedly blocked from editing Wikipedia in response to abuse of editing privileges.”
A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said: “We announced an investigation to examine edits to Wikipedia, and will look at all concerns raised.”
Racist changes to articles on Wikipedia glorying in killing or enslaving black people are linked to a government IP address, adding to scandal of a Wikipedia page on the Hillsborough disaster being amended to include the words “blame Liverpool fans”: here.