Sometimes 90 edits a day and up to 544 edits a month were recorded on a single computer on government network, according to Wikipedia
The large volume of seemingly harmless edits has put the government’s network under Wikipedia’s close scrutiny.
Since August last year one anonymous user using a government connection has made hundreds of edits during work hours.
Government’s editing wikipedia isn’t a new phenomenon- but the volume seen by this particular anonymous user is the most Wikipedia has ever seen.
Hundreds of edits made by an anonymous government user to pages ranging from the Aviation Security Act 1982 to the British Homeopathic Association.
The Mirror reports:
The factboxes have been added to pages ranging from the Aviation Security Act 1982 to the British Homeopathic Association.
On December 29th, the connection was used to make 95 edits in a single day.
The unusual activity was flagged up using a Twitter account called WhitehallEdits, set up by Channel 4 News to automatically tweet whenever a government owned IP address makes changes to Wikipedia.
It’s allowed the public to scrutinise the activities of Government officials on Wikipedia, and helped to uncover occasions when they’d edited pages they shouldn’t have.
In April, the list of IP addresses owned by the government was used to uncover vandalism of the Hillsborough disaster Wikipedia page.
Insults, including “Blame Liverpool fans” were added to the page from a Government computers, and the phrase “You’ll never walk alone” was changed to “You’ll never walk again.”
The IP address used to make the edits was revealed to be part of the Government’s secure network by then treasury secretary Angela Eagle MP in 2008, in response to a parliamentary question.
While adding factboxes to articles is relatively harmless, the sheer scale of the operation has rendered the WhitehallEdits bot next to useless, swamping it with dozens of changes every hour on some days.
A spokesperson for the Cabinet Office said it was impossible to tell which computer was making the edits, or even if they were being made by a single person as public facing IP addresses can be shared by numerous computers.
They told Mirror Online they were unable to publish information which would confirm whether this IP address had been assigned to a particular Government department, or if it was in use by a local government agency.
But the pattern of making the factboxes in alphabetical order suggests the work of a lone editor.
The Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “Civil servants are required to use their time online responsibly and follow the Civil Service Code when working online.”
Does this seem innocent to you or is the government doing something suspicious? Should government employees be allowed to edit Wikipedia entries anonymously? Comment below.
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