Wikipedia Blocks Hundreds Of ‘Scam’ Accounts
Wikipedia has blocked 381 accounts for what it has called “black hat” editing – people being paid to create promotional articles without disclosing who they represent.
The accounts were reportedly run by one “co-ordinated group”.
Most of the articles were related to businesses, business people, or artists.
Some of the businesses alleged that they had been scammed by the rogue editors,Wikipedia said.
Volunteer editors on English Wikipedia announced the move after weeks of probing.
The investigation, called “Orangemoody” after the first rogue account identified, revealed that the suspect accounts were “sock puppets” – a term that refers to people creating fake online identities to promote a certain viewpoint, often while having a personal or paid interest.
In addition to blocking the 381 “sock puppet” accounts, the editors deleted 210 articles created by them.
The articles “often included biased or skewed information, unattributed material, and potential copyright violations,” Wikimedia Foundation members Ed Erhart and Juliet Barbara wrote in a blog post.
Some of the companies and people involved said they had been scammed, Wikipedia said.
Article subjects may have suffered from “continued shakedowns by bad actors”, it added.
There were allegations of demands for payment, and complaints that articles were being deleted despite payments being made.
The list of businesses and artists that said they had been scammed included a UK holiday firm, and a former Britain’s Got Talent contestant, the Independent reported.