As the fallout from the Independent’s sting on Bell Pottinger rumbles on, it has now emerged that they have used so-called “sockpuppet accounts” to spin Wikipedia pages for their clients — including smearing Gordon Brown’s sister-in-law by adding material accusing her of “inciting racial hatred”.
Clare Rewcastle Brown is a Malaysian-born British investigative journalist who has made a career out of campaigning against corruption and environmental violations. She founded a blog and radio station against deforestation in the state of Sawark.
Building on work from blogger Tim Ireland, Wikipedia have identified a list of accounts operated by Bell Pottinger, along with a collection of pages which they have edited. The account Biggleswiki — which Bell Pottinger have confirmed was operated by them — has created and populated a section for “criticisms” of the journalist.
Before it was removed in the cull of Bell Pottinger material, material was added which was sourced to a newspaper owned by a governing political party in Malaysia:
“On 25 February 2011, the Malaysian Deputy Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Joseph Salang announced that Radio Free Sarawak [founded by Rewcastle Brown] was not licensed by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, and was therefore operating illegally. At the same time, RFS was accused of inciting racial hatred in Sarawak through its daily broadcasts.”
To further impugne her reputation, edits to the page to cast aspersions on her being born in Malaysia. Bell Pottinger have also been linked to other Wikipedia content supportive of vested interests in Malaysia, including creating the page for the Earth Awards, established by the Malaysian government, upon whom they heap praise.
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