Somebody in Congress is Sending Secret Messages Through Wikipedia Edits

By Jack Moore, GQ.com

Much to the chagrin of high school teachers everywhere, Wikipedia is one of the largest compendiums of knowledge in the modern world. But due to the fact that anyone can edit any page at any time—again, a fact that high school teachers love pointing out—often there are edits that are made for reasons of bias rather than some higher aspiration to achieve a "most true" outcome.

This is where one of my favorite things on the Internet comes in. @Congressedits on Twitter is a bot that documents every edit to Wikipedia made from an IP address in the halls of Congress. This can have real, newsworthy results, like the time that someone was caught editing an article on the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA torture from a Senate IP address. Their edit was to remove the words "(a euphemism for torture)" from the page, claiming that this was biased language. And for a while, that seemed like the major purpose of @Congressedits, to be a watchdog.

Well, someone working in Congress had another idea (a brilliant one at that) and decided to use this oversight to send messages to the American people through a series of Wikipedia edits that they knew would be tracked and published by the Twitter account. This led to two complete messages being sent. One simple and kind of goofy and the other scary. (Read the articles that were edited, bottom up. Hat tip Philip Bump.)

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The second set of edits, containing a more dire message, can be seen clearly on the edit history of the same IP address. Again, read the article titles starting at the bottom and moving up.

"Help! The Gop They Will Kill Us All (Without Mercy) RYAN Could not care less AbOUT Poor Folk"

This is a clever and funny way for someone in Congress to communicate something very serious and scary. If you don't already, I'd take this opportunity to follow @Congressedits. You never know what the next message might say.

Alanna Johns