PR Firm Accused of Wikipedia Sockpuppetry
Sockpuppetry and Meatpuppetry…Oh My!
But, a Texas PR firm, aptly named Wiki PR, has received a cease and desist letter from Wikipedia because it’s been discovered they have created fake accounts for the sole purpose of adding their clients to the online encyclopedia.
Never mind the fact a business has been created around the one tool that PR pros are banned from updating, the Wikimedia Foundation has proof they have created more than 300 fake accounts for the sole purpose of editing pages.
According to The Independent, a publication in the U.K., the letter outright accuses the firm of sockpuppetry, which undermines the principles of objectivity and neutrality of the site.
We have come to the opinion that, based on the evidence we have to date, that agent(s) of your company have engaged in sockpuppetry or meatpuppetry to, among other things, make it appear as if certain articles are written by unbiased sources when in fact those articles are authored by Wiki-PR for money.”
Sock puppets are fake accounts that are used to write reviews or update pages. Meat puppets will actually invite people into debate to make it look like the accounts – and information – are real.
The use of sock puppets is never acceptable. On the other hand, if we are not permitted to post openly, it is inevitable that many PR firms will employ sock puppets to defend their clients interest. Wikipedia would serve everyone better if they simply admitted that PR has a legitimate role to play and permit us to post openly.