Rewriting history

Aug 16 2007 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Virgil Griffith, 24, a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology and self-styled "Mad Scientist. Disruptive Technologist", has create a giant headache for the [mis]communications departments of some of the world's best-known companies courtesy of a device that tracks the source of changes made to Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia.

Thanks to the Wikiscanner, it is now public knowledge that a host of bog-name corporations have been trying to rewrite history in an attempt to cover up their past.

Among those he has already embarrassed are Apple, Disney, Dell , Dow Chemical, Fox News, IBM and Sony, not to mention a host of political parties and pressure groups.

.Mr Griffith says he hoped "to create minor public relations disasters for companies and organisations I dislike" – an ambition he has quickly realised.

Take a look here for a long and depressing list of attempted whitewashes, but typical of the sort of crass corporate spinning uncovered is this:

Original extract: "Exxon Mobil has not yet paid the $5 billion in spill damages it owes to the 32,000 Alaskan fishermen."

This was altered by someone using an ExxonMobil IP address to: "ExxonMobil paid $300 million immediately and voluntarily to more than 11,000 Alaskans and businesses affected by the Valdez spill. Virtually all Valdez compensatory damages were paid in full within one year of the accident, and the trial court commended ExxonMobil for coming forward "with its people and its pocketbook and doing what had to be done under difficult circumstances.""

And still some people wonder why public trust in business is collapsing. Keep up the good work, Virgil.