By LOUIS FLORES
Progress Queens asked the City Hall press office for comment about the New York Police Department's use of taxpayer money and resources to undermine the truth about NYPD brutality and corruption in Wikipedia.
However, City Hall officials refused to answer Progress Queens's request.
New York voters and activists took to social media on Friday to complain about the NYPD's inappropriate use of taxpayer resources to make edits to Wikipedia pages, also known as entries. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that is written and edited by the public.
An author can either register to create a Wikipedia account in the name of a handle he or she so chooses, or Wikipedia will allow unregistered users to enter amendments, in which case, Wikipedia will track a user's Internet Protocol address, or IP address. It was the latter format that staff from the NYPD used to make edits to Wikipedia, allowing reporters at Capital New York to perform reverse searches of the IP address, tracing back the edits to the people using computers that were part of the NYPD's network.
According to a bombshell report by Kelly Weill and Azi Paybarah, reporters for Capital New York, suspicious edits and deletions made to Wikipedia pages about the NYPD and victims of NYPD homicides and brutality. These edits were traced back to people using computers that were part of the NYPD's network at One Police Plaza, the NYPD's headquarters.
The nature and circumstance of the edits and deletions were made to deceive readers of Wikipedia into understanding a different version of the truth about events. The changes essentially made the NYPD looked better by fraudulently presenting the NYPD is less controversial light. For example, one edit to the Wikipedia page on the "Death of Eric Garner" that was traced by the Capital New York report to NYPD computers showed that the change that was made was that the phrase “Use of the chokehold has been prohibited” was altered to “Use of the chokehold is legal, but has been prohibited.”
The Capital New York report found a series of similarly deceptive edits made by people using computers traced back to the NYPD network.
When confronted with examples of the edits to Wikipedia that were traced back to NYPD computers, a spokesperson for the NYPD told Capital New York that the matter was under internal review.
Amongst the unanswered questions Progress Queens posed to City Hall press officials included whether the NYPD or any other city agencies, including City Hall or City Council, were also engaged in making deceptive and fraudulent edits to Wikipedia on subjects other than NYPD brutality and corruption and whether City Hall approved of the NYPD's misconduct in respect of the reported Wikipedia edits.
City Hall press officials would also not address whether the de Blasio administration would call for a full investigation of the matter, including calling, if necessary, for the discipline of NYPD staff for having engaged in deception and fraud, if such an investigation determined such an outcome.
Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio has his own sordid history with making surreptitious edits to Wikipedia.
In 2012, someone in the Public Advocate's Office made vanity edits to the Wikipedia page on then Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. The edits were traced back by reporters at The New York Post to a computer in the Public Advocate's Office.