Excerpt from an investigation by Capital New York into rampant editing of Wikipedia by NYPD-based computers:
Computer users identified by Capital as working on the NYPD headquarters’ network have edited and attempted to delete Wikipedia entries for several well-known victims of police altercations, including entries for Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo. Capital identified 85 NYPD addresses that have edited Wikipedia, although it is unclear how many users were involved, as computers on the NYPD network can operate on the department’s range of IP addresses.
NYPD IP addresses have also been used to edit entries on stop-and-frisk, NYPD scandals, and prominent figures in the city’s political and police leadership.
The full article has some clearer statistics and figures on the edits. Unsurprisingly, some police computers were also simply being used to edit articles of personal and non-police interest to members of the NYPD, such as things related to hobbies and pop culture.
But a heck of a lot of the edits were focused on airbrushing or contesting articles related to controversial killings by the NYPD. And the fact the changes were being made right from computers owned by the NYPD and used at NYPD IP addresses is pretty bold.
It’s hard to know if the changes were essentially “vigilante” actions by frustrated cops/staffers or whether there was some kind of official policy urging them to make such changes on their down time at the office.
The pattern of edits is reminiscent of the notorious editing efforts from computers in the offices of the U.S. Congress toward pages related to members and their rivals or opponents.