19 Mar 2015

San Diego Police Department caught editing their Wikipedia page to remove sections on misconduct

A San Diego Police Department dispatcher and anonymous Wikipedia users have edited or deleted paragraphs from the misconduct section of the police department’s Wikipedia page five times since January 2014.
One of the Wikipedia users told U-T Watchdog he made the changes because individual cases were wrongly used to smear the whole department, or because of inaccuracies.
The anonymous edits were made through Internet connections owned by the City of San Diego and assigned to the police department, as recently as this January.
The edits, which eliminated references to negative information, came as the police force faced several scandals over officer misconduct — a pattern that resulted in top brass requesting a federal review that was released today.
Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that is written and edited by volunteers. Its mission is to “produce a neutral, reliably sourced encyclopedia.”
The website discourages conflicts of interest that could undermine the site’s credibility, including content changes that advance the interests of a user’s employer over the interest of readers.
“Edits by the San Diego Police Department about something that pertains to their work would generally be considered a conflict of interest by the Wikipedia community,” said Juliet Barbara, senior communications manager for the Wikimedia Foundation, the San Francisco nonprofit group that runs Wikipedia.
U-T Watchdog also asked police officials whether the use of department technology to make Wikipedia edits might violate policies on communications or use of equipment. Lt. Scott Wahl responded:
“This Wikipedia page in not an SDPD or City sponsored website. The editing of content found on the Wikipedia page regarding the San Diego Police Department is not, nor has it ever been, assigned to any Police Department Personnel. Because Wikipedia is 'based on a model of openly editable content,' the department has no control over information displayed on the website, including any edits that may be made by internet users. We appreciate you bringing this to our attention. We will look into it as appropriate.”
Wikipedia user Daniel Weiss, listed as a police dispatcher in city payroll records, said he made changes but not at work.
“Searching through Wikipedia pages of similar departments, one does not find that level of attention focused on the actions of a small portion of its officers,” Weiss said. “Wikipedia is a historical reference page, not a means for an agency to be slammed eternally by calling out the sometimes untrue or misrepresented actions of the few.”
In January 2014, Weiss twice edited the misconduct section of the page.

1 comment:

  1. Wikipedia, a cheap whore for lobby groups.