The Russian government was reportedly spotted editing a Wikipedia page about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on Thursday. The crash killed 298 people aboard MH17.
A Twitterbot called RuGovEdits, dedicated to keeping an eye on edits of Wikipedia content by users with Russian government Internet protocol addresses, claimed that changes have been made to a section on a Russian-language page about the Boeing 777 crash that accuses the country of providing “terrorists” with the missiles to shoot down the commercial airliner, the Telegraph reported. (A Twitterbot is a program used to produce automated posts via Twitter.)
Статья в Википедии Список авиационных катастроф в гражданской авиации была отредактирована ВГТРК http://t.co/peZ60q07Fj
— Госправки (@RuGovEdits) July 18, 2014
The plane [Flight MH17] was shot down by terrorists of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk with Buk missiles, which were obtained by terrorists from the Russian Federation.
After the edit, the post said:
The plane [Flight MH17] was shot down [by] Ukrainian military.
According to the Telegraph report, the changes were made by an Internet user within the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Co., or VGTRK, a state-run TV and radio network.
In Wikipedia, each edit made is permanently recorded with the username and IP address that made the change.
RuGovEdits is not the first Twitterbots created to monitor edits of the online encyclopaedia. An automated Twitterbot called congress-edit was established to keep track of Wikipedia edits originated by users on U.S. Congress computers and instantly tweet them. A similar tool was launched to watch over edits by users on U.K. Parliament computers.
Flight MH17, on a scheduled run from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over eastern Ukraine Thursday, prompting world leaders to demand an international probe.
While questions about who is responsible for the deadly incident still remain unanswered, Ukraine’s interior ministry said the plane was shot down by a missile, while U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday that the airliner was likely targeted by pro-Russian separatists.
However, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied the allegations of Russia’s involvement in the tragedy, saying that “certainly, the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy,” according to the Associated Press.