You may remember we reported last week on a new Twitter account that tracks Wikipedia edits made from inside the U.S. Congress. Well, there’s also a Russian equivalent — and it’s been picking up some pretty drastic edits to the Wikipedia entry for downed airplane Flight MH17 made from within Russian government buildings.
According to @RuGovEdits, users have been editing out references to terrorism and Russian involvement and shifting the blame to Ukrainian soldiers instead. As the Telegraph reports, It appears that one key change came from within the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK).
It’s not surprising that authorities from either side of the debate would be looking to promote their version of events, but it’s another demonstration of how Wikipedia’s accountability features can be useful: All changes to pages are logged together with the IP address location, even when made anonymously.
Flight MH17 crashed on the Ukraine-Russia border on Thursday after apparently being struck by a surface-to-air missile. There were no survivors from the 298 people on board. In a press conference President Obama told reporters that he believed Russian separatists were responsible: “A group of separatists cannot shoot down military planes without sophisticated equipment — and that is coming from Russia.”
It’s a version of events rejected by the Kremlin, with Russian President Vladimir Putin saying that “the government over whose territory it occurred is responsible for this terrible tragedy.” Investigations continue into the cause of the crash, in which Flight MH17 may have been mistakenly identified as a military aircraft by forces on the ground.
The Wikipedia page for Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 continues to be updated as events unfold, but any government officials would be wise to wait until they get home to make any edits — the bots are watching.