Staffs for US presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama caught making questionable edits to Wikipedia
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
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Wikinews has determined through an investigation that the staffs for 2008 United States presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain have been spending some of their time making questionable edits to Wikipedia, the open content online encyclopedia. The investigation also found that Obama's campaign staff seems to be removing questionable edits more often than they are making them. McCain's campaign staff in most cases is removing unflattering information in certain articles.
While using the online internet tool Wikiscanner, Wikinews was able to determine the Internet Protocol Address range for the campaign headquarters for Obama, Obama For America and McCain, mccain08hq.com. After determining the ranges, Wikinews found the individual IP addresses used to edit Wikipedia and cross referenced them to current edits as early as August of this year for both campaigns.
As early as August 1, a staff member from McCain's campaign using the IP address 188.8.131.52 edited a Wikipedia article titled: Xenophobia, in which the staff member removed a paragraph of information stating that "North America has had a current of xenophobia against black people, especially in the United States." On November 2, 2007, a staff member using the same address removed information that criticized Liberty University. Staff members also performed other edits on articles that favor McCain which can be considered a conflict of interest.
Obama's campaign staff was also participating in editing. One staff member using the IP address 184.108.40.206 apparently did not like Vanilla Ice saying on May 31, 2007, "Most recently, Winkle was the target of an unfortunate assault when, during a concert in Des Moines, Iowa, an Aryan-looking, bi-curious campaign staffer named Tom Vietor hurled an empty bottle at the performer's skull." The edit was immediately removed by the same IP address. Vietor's last registered salary was in April of 2007. On August 6, 2007 another staff member using a different IP address from Obama's campaign, 220.127.116.11, added "Adam Goldfarb is the biggest liar I know" to the Wikipedia article Liar. Goldfarb is listed as being on the New Jersey staff for Obama's campaign. Later more recent edits from 18.104.22.168 appear to remove vandalism from articles on Wikipedia while the other stopped editing thereafter.
These edits come just days after a Wikipedia editor alleged the McCain campaign lifted background information from Wikipedia for an August 11 public speech about the Georgian-Russian crisis. McCain gave a warning to Russia stating, "Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin must understand the severe, long-term negative consequences that their government’s actions will have for Russia’s relationship with the U.S. and Europe."
Wikinews has e-mailed both campaigns, but as of publishing this report, there have been no responses.
- "Wikinews investigates claim McCain plagiarized speech from Wikipedia" — Wikinews, August 23, 2008
- 22.214.171.124. "Xenophobia Revision as of 11:45, 1 August 2008" — , August 1, 2008 (McCain Campaign)
- 126.96.36.199. "Aaron Goulette Revision as of 22:59, 27 June 2008" — , June 27, 2008 (McCain Campaign)
- 188.8.131.52. "Liberty University Revision as of 18:17, 2 November 2007" — , November 2, 2007 (McCain Campaign)
- 184.108.40.206. "Liar Revision as of 16:21, 6 August 2007" — , August 6, 2007 (Obama Campaign)
- 220.127.116.11. "Vanilla Ice Revision as of 16:32, 31 May 2007" — , May 31, 2007 (Obama Campaign)
- "Adam Goldfarb, NJ Obama Staff" — , N/A
- "Thomas Vietor, Congressional Staffer - Salary Data" — , N/A