Latest in Gear

Image credit: Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The North Face gamed Wikipedia to boost Google searches

The company has since apologized for the move.
443 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Apparel giant The North Face apparently resorted to some less-than-scrupulous tactics to ensure its gear stood out in search results. The Wikimedia Foundation reported that The North Face and its ad agency Leo Burnett Tailor Made admitted to having "unethically manipulated" Wikipedia for the sake of a campaign. In a video, the two firms said they switched Wikipedia photos with their own to ensure that North Face would show at the top of Google when people searched for adventure. It claimed that it had been "collaborating with Wikipedia," but the site denied this -- it even pointed to the companies boasting that they avoided attention from Wikipedia moderators.

Volunteers have since removed the images or cropped out North Face logos. The company itself has since apologized, acknowledging that its behavior was "inconsistent" with Wikipedia's goals. It has ended the marketing campaign and vowed that teams and vendors would be "better trained" on Wikipedia's policies.

The incident underscores both the advantages and pitfalls of Wikipedia's crowdsourced approach to knowledge. While it makes information accessible and contributions relatively easy, that same openness also makes it possible for self-serving contributors to twist the site to suit their own ends (however temporarily). Moderators and the site itself may have to be more prepared for surreptitious plugs like this, even if they're unlikely to happen again in the near future.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
443 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

GNU founder Richard Stallman resigns from MIT, Free Software Foundation

GNU founder Richard Stallman resigns from MIT, Free Software Foundation

View
 FCC approves first commercial use of 3.5GHz band

FCC approves first commercial use of 3.5GHz band

View
What's on TV: 'Spider-Man: Far From Home'

What's on TV: 'Spider-Man: Far From Home'

View
Russia reportedly breached encrypted FBI comms in 2010

Russia reportedly breached encrypted FBI comms in 2010

View
Elon Musk insists 'pedo guy' tweet wasn’t serious accusation

Elon Musk insists 'pedo guy' tweet wasn’t serious accusation

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr