A US hacker's homemade program to pinpoint origins of Wikipedia edits indicates that alterations to the popular online encyclopedia have come from the US CIA and the Vatican.
Virgil Griffith's "Wikiscanner" points to CIA computers as the sources of nearly 300 edits to subjects including Iran's president, the Argentine navy and China's nuclear arsenal.
A CIA computer was the source of a whiny "Wahhhhh" inserted in a paragraph about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's plans for the office.
"While I cannot confirm whether any changes were made from CIA computers, the agency always expects its computer systems to be used responsibly," CIA spokesman George Little said in response to an inquiry.
Anyone can make changes to the Internet encyclopedia. Wikipedia's founders believe people who know better will quickly correct inaccurate or misleading data.
Griffith says his software matches unique "IP" addresses of computers with Wikipedia records regarding which machines are used to make online edits.
"I came up with the idea when I heard about congressmen getting caught for whitewashing their Wikipedia pages," the graduate student and self-described hacker explains on his Web site.
Most edits listed at Wikiscanner involve minor changes such as spelling. Some alterations involve removing unflattering information, adding facts or inserting insults.
Wikiscanner's roster indicates that a Vatican computer was used to remove references to evidence linking Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to a decades-old double murder.
Someone at the US Democratic Party's congressional campaign committee changed a description of conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh to replace "comedian" with "bigot" and dub his listeners "legally retarded."
"We don't condone these sorts of activities and we take every precaution to insure our network is used in a responsible manner," committee spokesman Doug Thornell said.
A Republican Party computer purportedly was used after the US invasion of Iraq to change "occupying forces" to "liberating forces" in a Baath Party entry.
A UN computer is identified as the source of an edit that calls a respected Italian journalist a promiscuous racist, while someone using a US Senate computer altered a profile of veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas to complain she "interrupts" and is annoying.
An edit traced by Wikiscanner to the BBC changes causes of former UK prime minister Tony Blair's heart palpitations from strong coffee and vigorous gym workouts to vodka and exertion in the bedroom.
Wikiscanner also identified a BBC computer as being used to change US President George W. Bush's middle name from "Walker" to "Wanker." A computer belonging to Reuters news service is listed as adding "mass murderer" to a Wikipedia description of Bush.
Griffith said it appears common for political figures to "whitewash" entries by replacing negative adjectives with flattering ones and that corporations seem inclined to insert criticism of competitors and both show similar tendencies to remove critical information. He still considers the collaborative open Wikipedia model reliable.
"Overall -- especially for non-controversial topics -- Wikipedia already works," he said. "For controversial topics, Wikipedia can be made more reliable through techniques like this one ... to counteract vandalism and disinformation."
A Taiwanese YouTuber suspected of creating and selling deepfake porn videos featuring more than 100 politicians and influencers was on Monday released on bail after being arrested the previous day. Chu Yu-chen (朱玉宸), 26, who uses the name Xiaoyu (小玉) on YouTube, was arrested on Sunday in New Taipei City, along with two suspected accomplices, a 24-year-old YouTuber surnamed Yeh (耶), known as Shaiw Shaiw (笑笑), and a 22-year-old man Chuang (莊). The three suspects were on Monday escorted to the New Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office for further questioning on suspicion of distributing obscene videos and publicly insulting others, in contravention of
ANTI-COERCION: EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said the EU wishes to bolster relations with Taiwan within the framework of its ‘one China’ policy The EU is to further its engagement with Taiwan to defend democracy, freedom and an open market, while bolstering cooperation in semiconductor supply chains, EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said on Tuesday. In her remarks at a European Parliament plenary session focused on Taiwan-EU relations, Vestager referred to China’s increasing military presence in the Taiwan Strait, including flying missions off the southwest coast of Taiwan. “This display of force may have a direct impact on European security and prosperity,” she said, adding that the EU encourages all parties to avoid any unilateral actions that might increase tensions across the Strait. “We Europeans
MILITARY RESOLVE: Washington does not want a cold war with Beijing, it just wants ‘China to understand that we’re not going to step back,’ Biden told a CNN town hall The US would come to Taiwan’s defense and has a commitment to defend the nation China claims as its own, US President Joe Biden said on Thursday, although the White House later said there was no change in policy toward Taiwan. “Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” Biden said at a CNN town hall meeting when asked if the US would come to the defense of Taiwan, which has been facing mounting military and political pressure from Beijing to accept Chinese sovereignty. While Washington is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, it has long
DOWN, NOT OUT: The election was not a total defeat, as Chen still received 73,433 votes against the recall, and his party has ‘grown up’ through the process, he said Voters in Taichung yesterday recalled Taiwan Statebuilding Party Legislator Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟), making him the first legislator in the nation’s history to lose a recall election. A total of 77,899 votes were cast to recall Chen, while 73,433 voted against, the Taichung City Election Commission said, adding that 51.72 percent of the city’s second electoral district turned out. The Central Election Commission is to confirm the final figures within the next seven days, it said. Commission data showed that there are 294,976 eligible voters in the second district, comprised of Dadu (大肚), Shalu (沙鹿), Longjing (龍井), Wufong (霧峰) and Wurih (烏日) districts. Chen won