MH17: Russia spins Malaysia Airline tragedy on Wikipedia

A fireball is seen shortly after a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down. Photo / AP
A fireball is seen shortly after a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down. Photo / AP

Just a few weeks after the first bot launched, and a few days after the concept really started gaining momentum, twitterbots that comb government IP addresses for Wikipedia edits are already surfacing interesting and important results.

Over at GlobalVoices, Kevin Rothrock reports that an IP address at VGTRK, the state-run TV and radio network, edited the Russian-language Wikipedia page about aviation accidents to say that Malaysia Air Flight MH17 "was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers."

The edit seems to have been in response to an earlier edit from an IP address in Kiev that described the plane as being shot down "by terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation."

@RuGovEdits, a twitterbot that launched on July 13 to monitor Russian government Wikipedia edits, shows that the Russian revision came from VGTRK.

According to Rothrock, the tweet says, "A Wikipedia article about commercial aviation catastrophes was edited by VGTRK."

With nearly 300 people dead from Flight MH17, it's hard to focus on the minutiae of information technology. But the scenario shows just how revealing these little Wikipedia edit twitterbots can be.

- Slate

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