BP accused of rewriting environmental record on Wikipedia

oil_610x407by Violet Blue

Oil giant British Petroleum is well-known for the Deepwater Oil Horizon disaster and its much-criticized handling of the cleanup’s aftermath. But you might want to think twice before you read about the event, or the company’s environmental record, on Wikipedia.

Angry Wikipedia editors estimate that BP has rewritten 44 percent of the page about itself, especially about its environmental performance.

This comes to light just as a federal judge has scheduled a hearing for April 5 on BP’s request to prevent payments of what the oil company calls “fictitious or inflated claims” in a class action settlement reached with victims of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (Gulf of Mexico) oil spill.

BP says the claims could cost it billions of dollars.

BP’s emergency request for the hearing is in the civil trial currently under way in New Orleans which, according to The Economist, “will apportion blame for the accident, determine how much oil gushed out, and apply financial penalties.”

Meanwhile, the company may be working on cleaning up its environmental record on Wikipedia — in a way that leaves the Wikipedia reader none the wiser.

BP is not directly editing its page, but instead has apparently inserted a BP representative into the editing community who provides Wikipedia editors with text.

The text is then copied “as is” onto the page by Wikipedia editors, while readers are none the wiser that the sections pretending to be unbiased information are, in fact, vetted by higher-ups at BP before hitting the page.

Sections edited by “User:Arturo at BP” include the sections “Alternative Energy,” “Allegations of greenwashing,” and “Environmental record,” among others.

“Arturo BP,” who identifies himself as a member of BP’s press office, is providing the content for Wikipedia’s BP page, especially about the company’s environmental performance. He skirts direct page editing prohibitions by posting a notice on the BP “talk page,” and then Wikipedia editors copy and paste the content as provided onto BP’s page.
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