When Wikipedia Knows Something Too Soon

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

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One of the virtues of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia is that it can reflect new information very quickly after it becomes known. But there’s a rather odd development in the case of wrestler Chris Benoit’s murder of his family and suicide. From the AP:

Investigators are looking into who altered pro wrestler Chris Benoit’s Wikipedia entry to mention his wife’s death hours before authorities discovered the bodies of the couple and their 7-year-old son.

Benoit’s Wikipedia entry was altered early Monday to say that the wrestler had missed a match two days earlier because of his wife’s death.

A Wikipedia official, Cary Bass, said Thursday that the entry was made by someone using an Internet protocol address registered in Stamford, Connecticut, where World Wrestling Entertainment is based.

An IP address, a unique series of numbers carried by every machine connected to the Internet, does not necessarily have to be broadcast from where it is registered. The bodies were found in Benoit’s home in suburban Atlanta, and it’s not known where the posting was sent from, Bass said. . . .

Benoit’s page on Wikipedia, a reference site that allows users to add and edit information, was updated at 12:01 a.m. Monday, about 14 hours before authorities say the bodies were found. The reason he missed a match Saturday night was “stemming from the death of his wife Nancy,” it said.

Originally Posted at Concurring Opinions

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This post was authored by Professor Daniel J. Solove, who through TeachPrivacy develops computer-based privacy training, data security training, HIPAA training, and many other forms of awareness training on privacy and security topics. Professor Solove also posts at his blog at LinkedIn. His blog has more than 1 million followers.

Professor Solove is the organizer, along with Paul Schwartz, of the Privacy + Security Forum and International Privacy + Security Forum, annual events designed for seasoned professionals.

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