Mainstream media falls for fake Wikipedia hoax

  • 0
  • May 7, 2009
Patrick Altoft

Patrick Altoft

Director of Strategy

We couldn’t have timed the launch of our Wikipedia monitoring service WikiAlarm better. This week the mainstream media has been embarrassed after quotes they published in an obituary were revealed as a hoax.

“When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head,” Oscar-winning French composer Maurice Jarre once said, according to several newspapers reporting his death in March.

However, the quotation was invented by an Irish student who posted it on the Wikipedia website in a hoax designed to show the dangers of relying too heavily on the Internet for information.

Shane Fitzgerald made up quotes and entered them on Wikipedia — an encyclopedia edited by users — immediately after Jarre’s death was first reported on March 30.

The Guardian also had to edit the content of their obituary.

Imagine if somebody had written some fake information about a company and lots of newspapers published it? Anybody with a Wikipedia page needs to monitor it every single day because these events are all too common.

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