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Wikipedia accuses PR firm of posting biased entries for cash

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
November 21, 2013
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Wikipedia has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Texas publicity firm Wiki-PR over its alleged practice of "sockpuppeting," or posting articles for pay that make its clients look good. The open-source encyclopedia launched an investigation last month into the practice, which is a strong violation of its terms of service. That revealed over 300 phoney accounts stemming from the PR outfit, which it allegedly used to create articles for its clients that appear to be from unbiased sources. Wikipedia lawyers also accused Wiki-PR of "meatpuppetry," or using false identities to advocate certain positions in its user discussion forums. The site has closed all the fake accounts, saying the practice harms its reputation, abuses the labor of volunteers and can actually hurt the reputation of Wiki-PR's client firms -- if they're exposed by the press. Meanwhile, Wiki-PR told The Independent that "it's working with the Wikimedia foundation and its counsel to sort this out." Judging by its name alone, though, it might have to throw out its entire business model to do that.

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