Type of site
|Launched||July 8, 2014|
CongressEdits (or @congressedits) is an automated Twitter account created in May 2014 that tweets changes to Wikipedia articles that originate from IP addresses within the ranges assigned to the United States Congress. The changes are presumed to be made by the staffs of US elected representatives and senators. Previous to this, the best information about what congressional staffers were editing was found in the articles U.S. Congressional staff edits to Wikipedia and Wikipedia:Congressional staffer edits, which are manually updated. CongressEdits has been called a watchdog by NBC News.
CongressEdits was written by and is run by Ed Summers, who was inspired by a friend's tweet about Parliament WikiEdits, which performs the same function for the staffers of Parliament of the United Kingdom. It has since been credited for inspiring additional bots for Australia, Canada, South Africa, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Israel, Chile, Italy and Greece. Summers wrote that his "hope for @congressedits wasn't to expose inanity, or belittle our elected officials." He emphasized that he does 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." Ultimately, he would like to see Congressional staffers log into Wikipedia, identifying themselves to use their knowledge of the issues and history to help make Wikipedia better.
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."
CongressEdits was credited with bringing to light an edit to Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture by a United States Senate shared address on December 10, 2014, which removed the phrase "(a euphemism for torture)", with a revision note of "removing bias"; however, this edit was soon deleted.
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