NYPD found to be altering police brutality Wikipedia entries

13 Mar 2015

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New York Police Department (NYPD) computers have been used to edit Wikipedia entries about cases of police brutality in what appears to be an attempt to control the narrative of some highly controversial incidents.

A report by Capital New York has linked a large number of changes to the NYPD’s 1 Police Plaza headquarters through a series of IP addresses.

The computers were found to have been used to edit Wikipedia entries for a number of high-profile victims of police altercations, including Eric Garner, Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo. In some cases, attempts to delete entire pages were made.

The Wiki page ‘Death of Eric Garner went through a number of revisions. For example, “Garner raised both his arms in the air” was changed to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke”.

In another change, “Use of the chokehold has been prohibited” was changed to “Use of the chokehold is legal, but has been prohibited”. Garner died in Staten Island last July after a police officer allegedly put him in a chokehold.

Capital has linked NYPD IP addresses to hundreds of anonymous changes over the past decade, including on Wikipedia pages that were unrelated to police activities.

Wikipedia is the collaborative effort of a community of users known as Wikipedians, but anyone is free to edit entries. If an anonymous person makes an alteration, the website logs the user’s IP address and these records are publicly available.

A comprehensive list of the edits is available via Capital. “The matter is under internal review,” an NYPD person told the site.

Eric Garner protest image via Shutterstock

Dean is a freelance journalist and editor covering media.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com