The Bulletin

BP accused of rewriting Wikipedia records

Posting in Energy

A British Petroleum representative is being accused of rewriting almost half of the firm's environmental records on popular online encyclopaedia Wikipedia.

BP, propelled to the spotlight due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, has been critized not only for the accident itself, but the cleanup. However, if you read the firm's environmental record on Wikipedia, you may only be reading what the company wants you to know.

Annoyed Wikipedia editors estimate that 44 percent of BP's profile has been rewritten by a BP representative, "User:Arturo at BP." However, in order to avoid breaking direct editing restrictions, the BP rep has posted notices on the BP "talk page," where oblivious Wikipedia editors copy and paste the content onto the page instead.

Sections that have been edited by this member of BP's press office include "Alternative Energy," "Allegations of greenwashing," and "Environmental record."

BP wrote to the sister cite CNET, stating:

"BP operates within Wikipedia's guidelines for how company representatives should interact with the site's editors. For nearly a year now, we have been fully transparent, never directly editing any copy and always disclosing that any suggestions we offer to Wikipedia's editors have come from a BP representative.
We have also acted objectively, often proposing language that contains negative information about the company. Our participation in the editorial process undoubtedly has resulted in greater accuracy, which after all should be the primary concern of everyone who relies on this resource for information."

The rewrite, whether you want to take it as accurate or an attempt to sway the view of the general public, comes to light as the oil firm requests a hearing to stop compensation payments of "fictitious and absurd" claims that have cost the company billions of dollars.


Image credit: BP


— By on March 20, 2013, 7:57 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure