Posts Tagged ‘Wikipedia’

Anybody can post anything on the Internet

June 15, 2015

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Long before the autopsy, London police could guess what killed Yuri Gadyukin. When they pulled his body from the river beneath the Hammersmith Bridge on July 26, 1960, they saw a bullet-sized hole that had ripped apart his skull.

Authorities had been searching for the Russian director for weeks.  By the time they yanked him from the Thames, they’d surely heard rumors percolating down through country’s film community of catastrophic arguments on the set of his latest film, The Graven Idol, between Gadyukin and the film’s star, Harry Weathers.  Others whispered that Gadyukin owed money to a local gangster—cash he’d used to finance the film.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Gadyukin?  He was a star of early Soviet cinema before fleeing to England.  You can read about his life on a fansite and a Facebook group.  You can watch him melt down in a British television interview, storming off stage in spittle-spewing rage.  For nearly four years, there were Wikipedia and Internet Movie Database articles about him, brimming with citations from authoritative Russian sources.

Those entries are now gone.  Yuri Gadyukin did not owe money to a gangster.  His final film was not swirling out of control.  Weathers did not kill him.  His body was not found beneath the Hammersmith Bridge.

Gadyukin never died, in fact, because he never existed.

For the full story, click on Behind The greatest Wikipedia hoax ever pulled by Kevin Morris for The Verge  [Hat tip to naked capitalism]

The right to be forgotten.

June 16, 2014

The great dream of John Perry Barlow and other Internet pioneers back in the 1990s was that it would become a force for human freedom—that government and corporations would become transparent, and that individuals, through the power of cryptography, would be empowered to act freely and anonymously.

Instead individuals are becoming more and more transparent not only to police and spy agencies, but to employers, lenders, credit rating agencies and advertisers.   The fact that the information is not necessarily accurate or complete makes the situation worse.

It is corporations and government agencies that have the power to alter records and send embarrassing facts down the memory hole, as Winston Smith did in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.  

This is not a question of technology, or at least not exclusively a question of technology.  It is a question of whether we the people have the power and the will to set legal limits to power and enforce those limits.

We should start by insisting on transparency of government.  We can’t protect our privacy until we have the means of knowing what is done to invade or privacy.   And we can’t rely on government to protect us from corporate exploitation if its operations are hidden from us.

LINKS

Yes, Jimmy Wales, There Is a Right to Be Forgotten by Ted Rall for PandoDaily.

The Internet With a Human Face by Maciej Ceglowski at the Beyond Tellerand 2014 Conference in Dusseldorf, Germany.