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Last year a Wikipedia visitor edited the entry for the SeaWorld theme parks to change all mentions of “orcas” to “killer whales,” insisting that this was a more accurate name for the species.
There was another, unexplained edit: a paragraph about criticism of SeaWorld’s “lack of respect toward its orcas” disappeared. Both changes, it turns out, originated at a computer at Anheuser-Busch, SeaWorld’s owner.
Irish student hoaxes world's media with fake quote
By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Writer - Tue May 12, 2009 8:57AM EDT
DUBLIN - When Dublin university student Shane Fitzgerald posted a poetic but phony quote on Wikipedia, he said he was testing how our globalized, increasingly Internet-dependent media was upholding accuracy and accountability in an age of instant news.
His report card: Wikipedia passed. Journalism flunked.
The sociology major's made-up quote — which he added to the Wikipedia page of Maurice Jarre hours after the French composer's death March 28 — flew straight on to dozens of U.S. blogs and newspaper Web sites in Britain, Australia and India.
They used the fabricated material, Fitzgerald said, even though administrators at the free online encyclopedia quickly caught the quote's lack of attribution and removed it, but not quickly enough to keep some journalists from cutting and pasting it first.
A full month went by and nobody noticed the editorial fraud. So Fitzgerald told several media outlets in an e-mail and the corrections began.
"I was really shocked at the results from the experiment," Fitzgerald, 22, said Monday in an interview a week after one newspaper at fault, The Guardian of Britain, became the first to admit its obituarist lifted material straight from Wikipedia.
"I am 100 percent convinced that if I hadn't come forward, that quote would have gone down in history as something Maurice Jarre said, instead of something I made up," he said. "It would have become another example where, once anything is printed enough times in the media without challenge, it becomes fact."