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March 27, 2013

BP and Wikipedia are working together to whitewash BP's environmental disasters

History is written by the victors and by those who give money to Jimmy Wales. Big Oil's Wikipedia cleanup: A brand management experiment out of control | ZDNet
When BP was accused of having a direct hand in improving its environmental sections on Wikipedia, readers were unaware that nearly half the corporation's page had been written and vetted by the oil giant. The news broke just as BP obtained an emergency April 5 hearing in its Deepwater Horizon spill trial in New Orleans, to fight what it calls "fictitious claims" for victim compensation. At stake for the oil giant is blame and financial responsibility for the disaster. BP Deepwater Horizon Wikipedia Editors on Wikipedia were strongly divided about how BP had been facilitating changes made to its Wikipedia page. CNET reported that BP's press representative "Arturo BP" was not touching BP's page, but instead relied on other editors to make changes. Arturo BP was as a proxy to vet facts for Wikipedia from "experts within the company." BP was quick to say it was not breaking Wikipedia's rules. Indeed, companies can and do manage their Wikipedia profiles. Wikipedia page management is often viewed as brand management. What's unclear is where the line between corporate brand management, community and fact and fiction lie. However, the Wikipedia community doesn't see BP's page management as so black or white. Editors fought each other on Wikipedia discussion pages about the nontransparent corporate content; were the rules really being broken while they were technically being followed? Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales responded by loudly defending BP's actions. Wales fired off blistering statements saying the oil company was behaving exactly according to the way Wikipedia's rules are supposed to work. Wales specifically outlined that BP's use of Wikipedia was exemplary, 'going above and beyond what is required in order to be very clearly in compliance with best practice."

March 19, 2013

Canadian government issues new muzzle rules for librarians and a snitch line to report them

Federal librarians fear being ‘muzzled’ under new code of conduct | Canada | News | National Post
Federal librarians and archivists who set foot in classrooms, attend conferences or speak up at public meetings on their own time are engaging in “high risk” activities, according to the new code of conduct at Library and Archives Canada. Given the dangers, the code says the department’s staff must clear such “personal” activities with their managers in advance to ensure there are no conflicts or “other risks to LAC.” The code, which stresses federal employees’ “duty of loyalty” to the “duly elected government,” also spells out how offenders can be reported. “It includes both a muzzle and a snitch line,” says James Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, which represents more than 68,000 teachers, librarians, researchers and academics across the country. He and others say the code is evidence the Harper government is silencing and undermining its professional staff.