CongressEdits

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

@congressedits
Type of site
Twitter bot account
Available inEnglish
OwnerEd Summers
URLtwitter.com/congressedits
LaunchedJuly 8, 2014 (2014-07-08)
Current statusSuspended since October 2018

CongressEdits (@congressedits) was an automated Twitter bot account created in July 2014 that tweeted changes to Wikipedia articles that originated from IP addresses within the ranges assigned to the United States Congress.[1] The changes could have been made by anyone using a computer on the U.S. Capitol complex's computer network, including both staff of U.S. elected representatives and senators as well as visitors such as journalists, constituents, tourists, and lobbyists. Previous to this, the best information about what congressional staff were editing was found in the articles "United States Congressional staff edits to Wikipedia" and "Wikipedia:Congressional staffer edits", which are manually updated. CongressEdits has been called a watchdog by NBC News.[2]

In October 2018, Twitter suspended the account (tweets are now accessible only through archival services). CongressEdits can now be found on the social media site Mastodon.[3]

History[edit]

CongressEdits was written by and was run by Ed Summers, a web developer, who was inspired by a friend's tweet about Parliament WikiEdits, run by Tom Scott,[4][5] which performs the same function for the staffers of Parliament of the United Kingdom.[6] It has since been credited for inspiring additional bots for Australia,[7] Canada,[8] South Africa,[9] Switzerland,[10] The Netherlands,[11] Israel,[12] Chile,[13][14] Italy[15] and Greece.[16] Summers wrote that his "hope for @congressedits wasn't to expose inanity, or belittle our elected officials."[17] He emphasized that he did not see edits to such articles as Step Up 3D, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, or Horse head mask as "something to make fun of," and points to "substantial edits like changing a Congressperson's party affiliation from Democrat to Independent."[18] Ultimately, he wanted to see Congressional staffers log into Wikipedia, identifying themselves to use their knowledge of the issues and history to help make Wikipedia better.[14] Summers wrote that he saw the project "as a potentially useful transparency tool".[6]

Tweets since November 6, 2017 included screenshots of the specific changes made to the article.[19]

CongressEdits was credited[20] with bringing to light edits to Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture by a United States Senate shared address on December 9 and 10, 2014, which removed the phrase "(a euphemism for torture)", with revision notes of "removing bias"; however, these edits were soon reverted.

In 2017, the bot revealed many instances of disruptive edits by apparent Congressional interns,[21][22][23] ranging from commentary on pop culture[24][25] to inserting unsourced and controversial information about living people[26] to direct communication with followers of the account.[21][27]

Source code[edit]

The code for the bot itself is open-source software,[28] and can be configured to watch for anonymous edits from any IP ranges or individual IP addresses.[29]

Controversy[edit]

On July 25, 2014, Wikipedia's co-founder Jimmy Wales told the BBC that the @congressedits Twitter feed may have been counterproductive. Referring to a Wikipedia administrator's 10-day editing block, imposed on July 24 against a shared address within the range assigned to the U.S House of Representatives, for disruptive editing, Wales said, "There is a belief from some of the [Wikipedia] community that it only provoked someone—some prankster there in the office—to have an audience now for the pranks, and actually encouraged them rather than discouraged them."[30]

In September and early October 2018, during the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court appointment hearings, Republican senators were doxxed by Congressional IP editors who inserted home addresses and phone numbers into Wikipedia articles. The private information was tweeted to the bot's approximately 65,000 followers before it was removed from the articles.[31] Following additional doxxing by Congressional IP editors, Twitter suspended the account.[32]

A former Democratic staffer named Jackson Cosko was arrested and eventually convicted for the doxxing; he had worked as a systems administrator for senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and had been fired before the incident, used a colleague's key to sneak into the office, install keylogging software, and collect the personal information on senators.[33] He was arrested, charged with 7 crimes, and eventually convicted in the court case United States of America v. Jackson A. Cosko.[34][35][33] Cosko was sentenced to four years in prison.[33]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mak, Tim (July 14, 2014). "@CongressEdits Helps You Track Your Congressman's Vanity in Real Time". The Daily Beast.
  2. ^ Wagstaff, Keith (July 15, 2014). "Twitter Watchdog Keeps Tabs on Wikipedia Edits from Congress". NBC News. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  3. ^ "congressedits (@congressedits)". Mastodon. Archived from the original on February 11, 2018. Retrieved January 1, 2022.
  4. ^ Guardian Staff (July 30, 2014). "How to find out when UK politicians are editing Wikipedia pages". the Guardian. Retrieved February 19, 2021.
  5. ^ "Parliament WikiEdits". Twitter.com. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Gallagher, Sean (July 11, 2014). "@Congressedits tweets anonymous Wikipedia edits from Capitol Hill". Ars Technica. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  7. ^ "AussieParl WikiEdits". Twitter.com. July 12, 2014. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  8. ^ "Gov. of Canada Edits". Twitter.com. July 21, 2014. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  9. ^ "ParliZA WikiEdits". Twitter.com. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  10. ^ "swissgovedit". Twitter.com. Retrieved July 23, 2014.
  11. ^ "Tweede Kamer Edits". Twitter.com. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  12. ^ "Israeli Government Edits". Twitter.com. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  13. ^ "Congreso Edita". Twitter.com. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  14. ^ a b Willis, Derek (July 14, 2014). "With Twitter's Help, Watch Congress Edit Wikipedia". The New York Times.
  15. ^ "Parlamento Wiki". Twitter.com. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  16. ^ "VouliEdits". Twitter.com. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  17. ^ "why @congressedits?". Inkdroid.org. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  18. ^ "@Congressedits Hopes to See More Wikipedians in Congress". TechPresident. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  19. ^ "congress-edits (@congressedits)". Twitter. Status ID: 927650736963506177. Archived from the original on November 10, 2017. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  20. ^ "Senate staffer tries to scrub 'torture' reference from Wikipedia's CIA torture article". Mashable. December 10, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  21. ^ a b "congress-edits on Twitter". Twitter. Archived from the original on May 3, 2020. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  22. ^ Uberti, David (July 15, 2014). "6 Wikipedia edits made from Capitol Hill". Columbia Journalism Review.
  23. ^ Garber, Megan (July 15, 2014). "Okay, Who Edited the 'Choco Taco' Wikipedia Page From Congress?". The Atlantic.
  24. ^ "congress-edits on Twitter". Twitter. Archived from the original on October 17, 2017.
  25. ^ Hughes, Sarah Anne (July 14, 2014). "Congress Edits On Wikipedia: It's Always Sunny, Corpus Christi, And Horse Head Mask". DCist. Archived from the original on July 16, 2014.
  26. ^ "congress-edits on Twitter". Twitter. Archived from the original on February 9, 2018.
  27. ^ "congress-edits on Twitter". Twitter. Archived from the original on September 28, 2018.
  28. ^ "anon project, formerly congressedits, at github.com". GitHub. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  29. ^ Connors, Devin (July 14, 2014). "@CongressEdits Twitter Bot Highlights Anonymous Congress Wikipedia Edits". The Escapist.
  30. ^ Miller, Joe (July 25, 2014). "Wikipedia blocks 'disruptive' page edits from US Congress". BBC. Retrieved July 26, 2014.
  31. ^ "Judiciary Committee Members Doxxed During Kavanaugh Testimony". September 28, 2018.
  32. ^ Tully-McManus, Katherine (October 3, 2018). "Tensions Over Kavanaugh Drive Senate Into Tightened Security". Roll Call. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  33. ^ a b c Gerstein, Josh (June 19, 2019). "Ex-Hassan aide sentenced to 4 years for doxing senators". POLITICO. Retrieved December 23, 2020.
  34. ^ Mordock, Jeff (April 5, 2019). "Former Democratic staffer pleads guilty to 'doxing' Republican senators". The Washington Times. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  35. ^ McBride, Jessica (June 20, 2019). "Jackson Cosko: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy.com. Retrieved August 5, 2019.

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]