Being caught for editing Wikipedia pages has always been a dangerous game for individuals or businesses. Like reviewing your own book on Amazon, the fallout from being found out is usually far more trouble than it’s worth.
Ariadne Capital have discovered this the hard way. The London-based venture capital firm is suing PR agency Lansons after what it calls a “botched an attempt to improve a Wikipedia entry in a campaign that did its reputation more harm than good.”
The trouble started when Ariadne Capital consulted with Lansons about building up their image, and a Lansons employee emailed someone at Wikipedia itself. The email was then published on Ariadne’s Wikipedia page, along with a explanatory citation that contents of the email were “disputed”, according to Bloomberg.
Ariadne’s lawsuit claims that this led to “further negative updates” on the website.
Lansons has counter-argued that Ariadne Capital is “insufficiently appealing to the media” and that its CEO Julie Meyer had “a poor reputation in parts of the investment industry.”
The suit didn’t specify the exact amount of damages, other than that it was over £100,000 ($141,745). Lansons is counter-suing for £76,oo0 ($94,969) of unpaid invoices. When asked by Bloomberg for comment, Meyer said that “to have an intern contact Wikipedia was not what we paid for.”
Wikipedia has an illustrious history of high-profile individuals and companies editing their own entries. The site even has a page dedicated to people accused of “conflict-of-interest” edits, and it seems that just about anyone from presidential candidates to the Church of Scientology has been accused of the practice.
In 2012, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism discovered that UK MPs or their staff “had made almost 10,000 edits to the encyclopedia, and that almost one in six MPs had their Wikipedia article edited from within Parliament.” There’s also a Twitter feed dedicated to documenting Wikipedia edits made using UK government computers.