Controversial Ad Network Caught Editing Wikipedia

Phorm PR scrubbed negative news from its entry

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Phorm has been beset by controversy for years over its business model and quietly-run trials on British Telecom’s (BT) broadband service.

Those responsible for editing negative material out of Phorm’s Wikipedia entry did the company’s public relations staff no favors. People who expunge unseemly but accurate information out of their entries tend to cause themselves even more grief.

The Phorm edits ended up being caught by critics of the company. A report at The Register said these edits replaced criticisms of Phorm with “more ‘on message’ PR-type statements.”

Another article from The Register noted Phorm’s admission it had made changes to the Wikipedia entry, as their PR staff were unaware of Wikipedia’s numerous rules that cover conflicts of interest and other aspects of editing Wikipedia.

Phorm’s service works with ISPs and tracks the behavior of the ISP’s customers. It then serves advertising based on the perceived interests of the person browsing the web.

Advocates of the approach see it as a way to bring relevant ad content to people while generating revenue for the ISP. Opponents in Britain question the targeting practices of Phorm, and have little use for the company’s claims it will protect privacy of Internet users.

Controversial Ad Network Caught Editing Wikipedia
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  • Midnight_Voice

    Of course they were aware. They modified their entry on March 17th, as the ‘Phorm Tech Team’, and were made aware of the rules at that time.

    You can see the details of this in the underlying Discussion and Edit History pages of the Wikipedia Phorm entry.

    The edits were not as blatant that time, but nevertheless required some de-editing, even then.

    This time, they posted from an IP adress. Why, since they already had a Wikipedia identity; unless they hoped to avoid detection?

    But an IP address, though rather more secure than the much-vaunted ‘secret’ Phorm UID (now slated to be appearing in a phorged cookie, put there by Phorm – or should we start calling them Phorge? – for every website you ever visit), still revealed that the posting had come from a  BT address, and one in a rather restricted netblock.

    BT have now so discredited themselves that we all suspected it might, just, be them. But no, it was Phorge, as was always on the cards.

    And we’re supposed to trust these people to pick over *all* our web surfing, responsibly?









  • http://www.hemorrhoidshemroids.com/ Donald

    What has Wikipedia become?

    The whole concept of fair is a cultural judgement. 

    It’s nice to have guidelines in place to stop people from removing negatives about themselves, but who put those negatives there and  what are their issues for using an online encyclopedia to put down other people or groups?  Do they enjoy the buzz?  The fame?  The control?  Is there anything altruistic about these people?

    Also, how is an appropriate put down to be written?  Are there guidelines for that as well?  Nice to know there allowed though, isn’t it?

    Has wiki become no more than a giant blog of ‘approved’ bloggers, looking for something to blog about?

    The concept of a free online encycopedia was a good one, still is, my kids use wiki every now and then, in spite of having several encyclopedias on discs.

    I think wikipedia has crossed into the grey area and needs to redefine it’s parameters and whether it is there to serve bloggers or the needs of students it was suppose to be meeting – 3rd world students in particular, from memory; or was that just a delusion of it’s founder.

    What has Phorm got to do with student subjects?  I guess you can argue that in some sort of obtuse way I suppose.

    I don’t know anything about Phorm by the way – Don’t care either.  That’s not the point.

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  • Guest

    Wikipedia isn’t what it used to be or what it even pretends to be. Many people use it to damage or discredit others or for blatant self-promotion and some of the alleged editors there have extreme biases. There are often reversion wars and many of the editors seem to think they have some type of exclusive domain.  It is supposed to be encyclopedic not innuendo and slander.  Anyone could have made the changes – absolutely anyone.

    I used to really like Wikipedia, now I don’t bother with it.  It is a waste of time.  People can ruin anything.

  • http://www.hemeroidsblog.com Hemeroids

    Not knowing is not enough. If it was you could kill someone and then say you didn’t know that it was illegal.

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