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Vanity Editing
By Ed Driscoll · January 29, 2006 05:19 PM · Bobos In Paradise · Democracy In America · The New, New Journalism

In the old days of the Internet (many, many moons ago, my son--'round about, say, 1999), vanity searches ruled the Internet (that's how I ultimately discovered InstaPundit, and ultimately, the then-budding Blogosphere, back in 2001, just before 9/11). These days, vanity editing is apparently the in-thing among the really cutting-edge digerati:

The staff of U.S. Rep Marty Meehan wiped out references to his broken term-limits pledge as well as information about his huge campaign war chest in an independent biography of the Lowell Democrat on a Web site that bills itself as the "world's largest encyclopedia," The Sun has learned.

The Meehan alterations on Wikipedia.com represent just two of more than 1,000 changes made by congressional staffers at the U.S. House of Representatives in the past six month. Wikipedia is a global reference that relies on its Internet users to add credible information to entries on millions of topics.

Matt Vogel, Meehan's chief of staff, said he authorized an intern in July to replace existing Wikipedia content with a staff-written biography of the lawmaker.

The change deleted a reference to Meehan's campaign promise to surrender his seat after serving eight years, a pledge Meehan later eschewed. It also deleted a reference to the size of Meehan's campaign account, the largest of any House member at $4.8 million, according to the latest data available from the Federal Election Commission.

Betsy Newmark and Will Collier have further thoughts.



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