Prison Sponsor Tries To Delete Wikipedia Information After Sponsoring NCAA Football Stadium

from the ain't-gonna-work dept

Wikipedia gets, what I think is, a bad rap by the general public due to users being able to edit its pages. This isn't to say that there aren't ever problems, but I tend to think that the community does a pretty decent job of policing itself and much of the false-information-hand-wringing is much to do about nothing. Additionally, the benefits, both of all the good information on the site and the potential benefits of being a great Wiki editor, are far beyond any negative effects of false information. And, for anyone who does attempt to game the information on the site, the consequences can be awful.

Take, for instance, what has happened now that Geo Group, a company that runs for-profit prisons, has a spokesman running around trying to delete negative information about them from their Wikipedia page. This began shortly after Geo Group inked a deal with Florida Atlantic University for the naming rights to their football stadium, because nothing says irony quite like a prison name for college football, where the athletes are grossly exploited for the profit of the NCAA.
If you want a full litany of abuse, read the "controversies" section of Geo Group's Wikipedia page. But read it fast: Geo Group is desperately trying to wipe it before you see it. As their naming rights deal became national news, a Wikipedia user named Abraham Cohen attacking the page, clearing the entire "controversies" section and replacing it with, essentially, a PR packet. As first noted by the Huffington Post, Abraham Cohen is a spokesperson for Geo Group, and the new material contained multiple instances of the pronouns "we" and "our."
This, obviously, is seen as bad form on Wikipedia and editors almost immediately began fighting back, both restoring the deleted section and calling out Cohen. But Abe wasn't done. After the page was restored, an anonymous IP address which leads back to Geo Group's servers showed up on the page claiming that the PR information Abe had added wasn't PR information at all, but was an accurate reflection of the company's history.

The result of all this nonsense? Well, none of it is good for Geo Group. Deadspin picked up the story and there's little doubt their massive audience is now exponentially more aware of some of the company's more controversial moments, which include mistreatment of prisoners, withholding prisoner medication, withholding medical care for prisoners resulting in their deaths, and guards engaging in sexual intercourse with prisoners. Like me, it's likely that as of last week, most people didn't even know a company called Geo Group existed. But now, because they want to get into the football sponsorship business, and also because they think they can just remove negative information off of the internet, a whole lot of people are more informed about that negative information.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Internet Zen Master (profile), Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 5:41pm

    They never learn

    Facebook has already been put on notice (already seen a few postings before this).

    Reddit should be talking about this soon.

    The Streisand Protocol has been initiated. The Geo Group is in for a rude awakening.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Watchit (profile), Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 5:46pm

    It's too bad it takes big scandals and big news like this one to point out how bad for-profit prisons are :(

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 5:59pm

    The whole concept of privately owned for-profit prisons stinks!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    alanbleiweiss (profile), Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 6:05pm

    bummer. I wanted to tweak them on Twitter but they haven't posted to their account since October.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Anonymous Monkey (profile), Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 6:06pm

    Geo Group ... meet Mrs. Streisand ... ya'll play nice now ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Beta (profile), Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 6:06pm

    laws of economics

    All prisons are for-profit, if you count the narcotics and other commerce.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 6:19pm

    quick fix: The article title should be spelled "sponsor"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 6:22pm

    Seriously?

    Does no one at FAC care about their image? If only for recruiting purposes?

    Maybe their message to recruits is, "You know, and we know, that you're not NFL material. But we've got an in with a company that will employ you longer than the NFL will!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    ChronoFish (profile), Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 6:28pm

    Wiki on Wiki on Geo

    Best part of the wiki page is the end:

    "In February 2013, the GEO Group purchased naming rights to Florida Atlantic University's new football stadium.[19] On February 20, after the naming rights deal became public, a Wikipedia editor named "Abraham Cohen", the name of a GEO Group spokesman, deleted the "Controversies" section of the firm's Wikipedia article, replacing it with content copied from the firm's shareholder prospectus. After the section was restored, it was again deleted by an anonymous user whose IP address belonged to the GEO Group.[20]"

    Loving the citations as well!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Sam, Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 6:31pm

    When will these people ever learn? The internet doesn't forget and if you try to feed it roofies, the internet will spit them back in your face.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 6:46pm

    Florida Atlantic University sounds familiar .... wasn't there a story a while back about this place?

    hmmmmm - ah, yes. Here it is:
    James Tracy, FAU Professor, Disputes Newtown Sandy Hook Massacre Account

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/fau-professor-newtown-massacre-james-tracy_n_242 8898.html

    Not only do they employ a nutty conspiracy theory professor, but they name their stadium after a for profit prison. This is double plus crazy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Lorpius Prime (profile), Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 7:08pm

    That's bad rap, Mr. Geiger, not bad wrap. It refers to a criminal's "rap sheet" list of crimes. Which I guess would actually make it great choice of phrase for this post, even.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Ox, Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 7:22pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 6:19pm

    Also 'wrap' should be 'rap' in the first paragraph.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 7:39pm

    Talking about prisoners, I wonder if exoskeletons can't be used to limit the velocity of response for inmates.

    So the most violent would not be able to punch, shank or any other act, it would limit the movements of inmates to only certain speeds and would freeze in place if found out of reach or in a restricted area.

    Of course in case of fire they may die.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Copyeditor, Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 7:44pm

    Re:

    Not only that, but the first sentence should say Wikipedia gets "a bad rap", not a "wrap". Made it hard to take the rest of the article seriously, after two simple errors at the very beginning. ("Sponser" proves the writer didn't even bother with spell-check.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Don't Hold it against us, Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 10:19pm

    some of us can't go out of state to school

    I can't believe I enrolled in this school for their Marine Biology program. That was of course before they sold off all of the assets that made Harbor Branch such a great Marine research center. Then they did away with the actual Marine Biology degree, it's just a BS in Biology now.

    then they planned a big giant football stadium that was going to cost three million dollars to build, it didn't, they knew it wouldn't, and when the philosophy dept did the math and pointed it out, they did away with the philosophy dept. the stadium ended up costing more like 30 million if i remember right

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Tom Anderson, Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 11:41pm

    Re: Quick Fix

    The word "wrap" should be "rap" in the first sentence:

    Wikipedia gets, what I think is, a bad wrap by the general public due to users being able to edit its pages.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Tail-Gunner, Feb 23rd, 2013 @ 1:26am

    Who RUNS wikipedia?

    Here we go.. the Jewish, that's who.

    fourwinds10.net/siterun_data/media/internet/news.php?q=1262024557

    IF you don't like that, I can show example after example of abuse from wikipedia (including against myself) ; it's a gated community, and we aren't welcome in it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Bergman (profile), Feb 23rd, 2013 @ 3:27am

    Re: They never learn

    Actually, this goes beyond the Streisand Effect. This is the Scientology Effect. Or, as it was called at the time when the "church" started trying to delete the internet to prevent criticism, Operation Foot-Bullet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    special interesting, Feb 23rd, 2013 @ 6:35am

    Many times reading this site is way more entertaining that the telly. This is one of them.

    Kudos to the Wikipedia team for keeping journalistic professionalism. Nice to see an example of revisionist history its a great public awareness lesson.

    The GEO group seems determined to do this revising so the next thing to do is file a take-down notice for whatever odd copyright or trademark reason.

    Since I am all in favor of releasing all the non violent (guilty of what... lifestyle violations like using drugs?) offenders their business model would have to change.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Colin, Feb 23rd, 2013 @ 7:09am

    Re: Wiki on Wiki on Geo

    That's so meta.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    Zeissmann (profile), Feb 23rd, 2013 @ 8:27am

    Streisand effect

    Hey, where's Techdirt's customary link to the Wikipedia article on Streisand effect?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Internet Zen Master (profile), Feb 23rd, 2013 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Re: They never learn

    Hmmm... You've got a point.

    The Streisand Effect, when you think about it, can potentially have the unintended positive effect of reminding people that you still exist, and getting the curious to look into just who you were when you were still relevant to pop culture.

    Exhibit A: Chubby Checker. While it made Mr. Evans look like an idiot because he was defending his brand or risk losing the trademark to the phrase Chubby Checker. (Stupid law, yes, but that's how the system works these days.) While it no doubt made him the butt of many jokes in many circles on the Internet, there are probably quite a few curious folks who actually decided to look at the music he made when he was still relevant to the music world. Hell, they might have even purchased the tracks through Amazon/Google/itunes, which may have sent the man a little money (although given the era Chubby Checker was active, he may be getting screwed out of any proceeds by his old record label).

    So the Streisand Effect can (in theory) hurt and benefit someone at the same time.

    But in this case, there is no possible benefit for the Geo Group. Only bad things can come from trying to delete content from the entire Internet.

    Perhaps there should be a subcategory for the Streisand Effect. Maybe something like "Streisand Effect: Internet Boomerang Protocol?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Tex Arcana (profile), Feb 23rd, 2013 @ 8:05pm

    Re: some of us can't go out of state to school

    Why was this flagged??

    Oh, snap: it was GEO Group...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    Tex Arcana (profile), Feb 23rd, 2013 @ 8:06pm

    Re: Re: some of us can't go out of state to school

    Oops, wrong post.

    Hey, perfect example of financial censorship

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    AgentCharmichael (profile), Feb 23rd, 2013 @ 9:19pm

    where the athletes are grossly exploited for the profit of the NCAA.

    How exactly is the NCAA different from, say, the Huffington Post?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 7:06am

    Re:

    Human nature ... where job seekers are grossly exploited for the profit of the job creators.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Feb 24th, 2013 @ 9:27am

    I thought it was "much ado about nothing"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    ethorad (profile), Feb 25th, 2013 @ 5:21am

    public or private prisons?

    Why? I'm sure you can point to anecdotes of private prisons having problems (this article for example). However I'm sure I can point to government run prisons being similarly poor.

    The problem lies not with the structure of the managing committee, but with the fact power corrupts. See the Stanford prison experiment for an example of how otherwise good people can degenerate when given prisoners (even through they knew the prisoners were similarly good).

    Until we have some cure for the human condition all we can do in prisons is have some form of checks and balances.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 7:15am

    Re: public or private prisons?

    It isn't about the quality of the prison or the way it is run. (Though both could be a concern.) The real concern is that government shouldn't have any incentive to send people to prison while for-profit prisons have an incentive to see as many people locked up as possible.

    If anything, government should have an incentive to keep people out of prison since it cost taxes to hold someone and they are unable to contribute to the economy while imprisoned.

    For-profit prisons on the other hand have every incentive to maximize revenue which can be done by lobbying for more and longer prison terms. I'll let Google speak for me on this one: https://www.google.com/search?q=for-profit+prsion+lobbying.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 7:42am

    Re: Re: public or private prisons?

    There's a great expose of all that can (and inevitably will) go wrong once prisons become privately-owned for-profit institutions. It's called Riki-Oh: The Story Of Ricky: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riki-Oh:_The_Story_of_Ricky. Ample choice clips are readily available on YouTube.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This