Wikimedia sends legal threat to WikiPR over sockpuppetry and meatpuppetry

Wikimedia, the nonprofit that oversees the Wikipedia project, has sent a cease-and-desist letter to WikiPR, an astroturfing company that pays people to distort Wikipedia entries on behalf of clients who want to erase embarrassing history or boost their image (or both). WikiPR is thought to be behind hundreds of sockpuppet accounts that made thousands of edits over several years.

To assist in the assessment, the WMF retained Cooley LLP to review and investigate allegations that a company named Wiki-PR has been engaging in paid advocacy editing, in contravention of the Wikimedia Foundation’s website Terms of Use. While the WMF and Cooley were investigating this question, the Wikimedia community banned Wiki-PR and anyone receiving financial benefits from Wiki-PR from editing until certain conditions were met.

Today, Cooley LLP, on behalf of the WMF, sent the cease and desist letter below to the CEO of Wiki-PR, demanding that Wiki-PR “cease and desist from further editing the Wikipedia website unless and until [they] have fully complied with the terms and conditions outlined by the Wikimedia Community.”

Wikimedia Foundation sends cease and desist letter to WikiPR

Notable Replies

  1. Well at least there's no meatsocking. We can all be thankful for that I think.

  2. I understand that the current people in charge in Fiji used a service like WikiPR .. the entry on Fiji is totally wrong and there is no mention that the current 'prime minister' was never elected ... winners write the history books, or in this case, beef up their wiki entry ...

  3. Wikimedia is constrained here because their entire model is based on transparency. It'd be easy for them to say, "we don't like that, we're cutting you off", but that would open up a zillion other judgement calls and invitations for others to test their edges.

    Their approach makes a lot of sense to me. Establish clear legal precedent and keep the rules transparent and legally binding.

    The problems of meat puppetry are larger than those faced by wikimedia, and any solution is going to be a much larger effort, with many more beneficiaries if it can work.

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