Washington (CNN)At least one anonymous person with a Capitol Hill internet connection is making near-constant edits on Wikipedia, dropping trolling messages into several articles in front of an online audience.
The edits range from inserting random spaces in some articles to adding to the captions on the page for a hamburger chain and dropping in a meme about GOP Sen. Ted Cruz into articles related to the Kennedy assassination.
And it has gotten pretty meta.
The Wikipediaedits came to light thanks to @congressedits
, a Twitter bot that generates updates whenever it detects someone from the House or Senate — members, staff or anyone using an internet connection associated with the Hill — making an edit to Wikipedia.
The account largely shows what one might expect, someone polishing a member of Congress’ page or slanting something political. But mixed in are plenty of moves well outside of the Beltway, from folk music to science fiction, and this week, the account provided updates for some self-referential vandalism on Wikipedia from the House of Representatives, or at least internet connections associated with it.
BuzzFeed published an article
on Wednesday, saying it looked like someone in Congress was trolling the CongressEdits bot, and after publication, at least one of the apparent editors added “They’ll never find me” to the article about BuzzFeed.
On Thursday, the editor or editors picked up the pace. In a series of left-leaning additions, one edit claimed
the University of Maryland chapter of Our Revolution, the organization for Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ political movement, is “the best chapter out there.”
Reached via email by CNN, that chapter’s president said he did not know who was doing the edits.
“I just checked with the only intern I am aware of that we have on the Hill, and he fervently denied editing those pages,” wrote chapter president Christopher Walkup.
Adding to the mystery was another edit on Thursday, this time to the “List of Impostors” article. The editor with a House IP added
to the list of fraudsters “whoever else is making these edits,” suggesting more than one person was involved in the ongoing vandalism.
Shortly after, someone dropped into
the article for “Narcissism,” writing “whoever thinks they have a monopoly on this shiz.”
Bad behavior on Wikipedia has earned the Hill blocks from editing in the past,
and the latest spate of bad edits was no different. A Wikipedia administrator blocked
an IP address associated with the House of Representatives for 31 hours, following the “narcissism” edit — putting at least a temporary stop to the trolling.
“Blocks can be applied by Wikipedia administrators — senior, trusted volunteers selected by the community — when Wikipedia policies are repeatedly violated by a user account or IP address,” Wikimedia spokesperson Elise Flick told CNN.
The Wikipedia page
for “Congressional staffer edits” notes a history of productive and unproductive behavior from Congress.
The uptick in trolling this week is just the latest in years’ worth of questionable changes from Capitol Hill to the free encyclopedia.
People using Capitol Hill internet have called the character Boba Fett from Star Wars overrated.
A couple of edits kept up with The Mountain Goats and the band’s front man John Darnielle.
And on a few occasions, people have apparently tried to sanitize history, editing a description of the southern strategy and trying to change an article on the Senate torture report.
Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/19/politics/congress-edits-wikipedia/index.html