18 Nov 2014

Government user edits Wikipedia page to smear Fifa chief

Edits have been made to the Wikipedia page of the 2022 World Cup by a British government computer user who smears the Fifa chief and the “Fifa Corruption Cup”, Channel 4 News has found.

A user operating on the British government computer network made the changes to the Wikipedia entry for the 2022 Fifa World Cup to claim that the competition to be held in Qatar “will be a farce”.

The user also said: “It is a farce, everyone knows it. Blatter is a tw****r.”

Edits to Wikipedia are visible in the history of a page.

Users without a username are identifiable as having edited the page from their computer’s IP address, which can be traced.

The edit was picked up by a Twitter “bot” set up by Channel 4 News that monitors and automatically tweets out edits made from computers connected to the British government’s secure intranet network.

Most of the edits picked up by the bot are edits to uninteresting pages about authors and updating football stats of Scottish football teams.

Users that do not have a username are identifiable as having edited the page from their computers’ IP address, which helps trace its location and the network to which it is connected.

It is unclear who made this change today, or which government department is responsible.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “Civil servants are required to follow the Civil Service Code when working online. Updated guidance on using the internet and social media has recently been issued to all departments.”

The changes was corrected by a Wikipedia administrator, subsequently reverted, a practice known as ‘edit-warring’.

This lead the Wikipedia administrator ‘MusikAnimal’ to place a temporary lock on edits to the page from unregistered users.

Follow the @WhitehallEdits bot to stay updated on the changes