Wikimedia Foundation sends cease and desist letter to	WikiPR

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Wikimedia, the nonprofit that oversees the Wikipedia project, has sent a cease-and-desist letter to WikiPR, an astroturfing company that pays people to distort Wikipedia entries on behalf of clients who want to erase embarrassing history or boost their image (or both).

The Wikimedia Foundation issued a statement from executive director Sue Gardner on 21 October 2013, condemning the black hat practice of paid advocacy editing and sockpuppetry on Wikipedia. The statement followed widespread press coverage of an investigation undertaken by Wikipedia’s volunteer editor community into more than 300 sockpuppet accounts that were alleged to belong to public relations firm Wiki-PR. In Gardner’s statement, she noted that the “Wikimedia Foundation is closely monitoring this ongoing investigation and we are currently assessing all the options at our disposal.”

To assist in the assessment, the WMF retained Cooley LLP to review and investigate allegations that Wiki-PR has been engaging in paid advocacy editing in violation of Wikipedia’s Terms of Use. As the investigation progressed, the Wikipedia community banned Wiki-PR and anyone receiving financial benefits from Wiki-PR from editing Wikipedia until certain conditions were met.

Yesterday, Cooley LLP, on behalf of the WMF, sent a cease and desist letter to the CEO of Wiki-PR, demanding that Wiki-PR “cease and desist from further editing of the Wikipedia website unless and until [they] have fully complied with the terms and conditions outlined by the Wikimedia Community.”

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