Wikipedia Offers Assistance to Ex-Trump “Wiki-Sneak”

— Wikipedia invites ex-Trump advisor Michael Caputo “to one of our DC editing events to learn how to use Wikipedia properly” after he gets busted trying to scrub his online bio

Last week, I blogged about Caputo’s attempts to purge Wikipedia of evidence that he helped promote Russian President Vladimir Putin in the United States.

Michael Caputo (source)

Via “Ex-Trump Aide Frantically Scrambles to Scrub Russia From Bio” by Lachlan Markay, The Daily Beast, November 6, 2017:

[Zeppelin Communications executive Sean Dwyer’s] editing campaign, which was first reported by independent blogger Dean Sterling Jones, shows that…he repeatedly attempted to remove language from the page that tied [former Trump adviser Michael Caputo’s] work for Gazprom to any efforts to burnish Putin’s reputation abroad.

[…]

Caputo denied that Dwyer had run afoul of any Wikipedia guidelines. “Sean has done nothing wrong except engage with Wikipedia according to their rules, which apparently put him in the sights of a wanker trolling me from his mommy’s basement,” he said.

Today, Wikipedia invited Caputo “or anyone in politics” to “come to one of our DC editing events to learn how to use Wikipedia properly.”

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From this tweet, it appears that Caputo has accepted the invite:

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The Daily Beast Busts Ex-Trump “Wiki-Sneak”

— Former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo takes swipe at me in The Daily Beast for blogging about his campaign to scrub Russia from his Wikipedia bio

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Via “Ex-Trump Aide Frantically Scrambles to Scrub Russia From Bio” by Lachlan Markay, The Daily Beast, November 6, 2017:

Former Donald Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo is determined to prove that he did not work for Vladimir Putin, and he’s using every tool at his disposal to do so—from a congressional ethics complaint, to a defamation lawsuit, to a surreptitious Wikipedia edit campaign.

Sean Dwyer, an employee of Caputo’s PR firm, Zeppelin Communications, was blocked from Wikipedia in August after he was caught using multiple pseudonymous accounts to purge Caputo’s page of alleged Putin ties, according to an investigation by the site’s editors. After the accounts were exposed as what Wikipedia calls “sock puppets”—multiple accounts run by the same person as part of a coordinated editing campaign—Dwyer admitted he had financial ties to the subjects of his edits.

[…]

Given what Caputo characterizes as widespread—and even malicious—misrepresentations of his work in Russia, “Wikipedia inaccuracies barely even make it on my radar,” he said.

And yet, Dwyer’s editing campaign, which was first reported by independent blogger Dean Sterling Jones, shows that Caputo was at least aware of the claims and determined to purge them. Dwyer did so through four different “sock puppet” accounts, according to Wikipedia’s investigation, and edit logs show he repeatedly attempted to remove language from the page that tied Caputo’s work for Gazprom to any efforts to burnish Putin’s reputation abroad.

Though it’s fairly common, “sock-puppetry is one of the cardinal sins of Wikipedia,” according to William Beutler, the president of digital marketing firm Beutler Ink and a longtime personal and professional Wikipedia editor. “We do this legitimately every day. But our approach is different from what they do here,” Beutler said in an interview. Unlike Dwyer, “we disclose who our clients are at the starting point.”

Caputo denied that Dwyer had run afoul of any Wikipedia guidelines. “Sean has done nothing wrong except engage with Wikipedia according to their rules, which apparently put him in the sights of a wanker trolling me from his mommy’s basement,” he said.

I deny all accusations that I live in my mother’s basement.

Update, 7/11/2017: The story was subsequently covered by Raw Story here, Wonkette here, and Just Security here.

Caputo: Caught in the Web

— Former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo paid his own PR firm to purge Wikipedia of his long-standing political ties to Russia

Michael Caputo (source)

According to Wikipedia editing records, Caputo recently paid Zeppelin Communications, a PR firm he co-founded in 2015 with Russian club owner Sergey George Petrushin, to delete evidence that he helped promote Russian President Vladimir Putin in the United States.

The edits were made two weeks after Caputo testified privately to the House Intelligence Committee about Donald Trump’s “tarantula web” of ties to Russia.

Caputo was brought onto Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign as communications adviser by his close associate, political strategist Paul Manafort.

Paul Manafort (source)

On Monday, Manafort was indicted on 12 charges including “conspiracy against the United States” as part of an investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is examining allegations of possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.

In July, Caputo’s firm launched a disruptive editing campaign to delete “disputed information” about his personal life and political career from Wikipedia, including his previous admission to The Buffalo News that in 2000 he was hired by pro-Russian news network Gazprom Media “to burnish Putin’s image in the United States.

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The firm also sought to add its own “properly sourced information” about Caputo, including that he “denies ever working for Putin, and scoffs at…accusations that he was ‘Putin’s image maker.’”

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Other noteworthy additions to Caputo’s life and career include that “he lived aboard a tugboat with a parrot,” and that his “work on high-profile campaigns drew attention because of his trademark use of volunteers in chicken suits and deploying strippers outside a debate.”

In August, an investigation by Wikipedia administrators determined that the edits were made by one person using multiple sockpuppet accounts.

The culprit, using the pseudonym “Baldassn,” subsequently admitted that they had been “paid by Zeppelin Communications on behalf of Michael R. Caputo” to make the edits.

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Zeppelin Communications PR account executive Sean Dwyer, who shares his last name with the main sock account, “DwyerSP,” and whose Twitter handle is “@DwyerSP,” appears to be the person behind the accounts.

Rather Droll

— Wikipedia once accused Trump’s new bible studies teacher Ralph Kim Drollinger of deleting unflattering information about himself using a sockpuppet account

This week it was reported by Breaking Christian News that about a dozen members of Trump’s cabinet, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, are attending weekly bible studies in the White House.

The weekly sessions are taught by Ralph Kim Drollinger, a former NBA player who currently heads the evangelical group Capitol Ministries, which provides ministry to lawmakers and political leaders in Washington.

Ralph Drollinger (source)

Drollinger has in the past drawn criticism for his regressive views on religion, homosexuality, and the role of women in public life.

Via “Capitol Ministries state director leaves, joins new Christian group” by Capitol Weekly staff, Capitol Weekly, November 12, 2009:

In 2004, he wrote in his weekly newsletter that “Women with children at home, who either serve in public office, or are employed on the outside, pursue a path that contradicts God’s revealed design for them. It is a sin.” In protest, 15 then senators, including now-Secretary of State Debra Bowen, held a protest where they carried toasters and wore aprons with a scarlet letter “M” on them, for mother.

In other instances, Drollinger reportedly called homosexuality “an abomination.” But he also criticized several Christian legislators for failing to attend his early-morning prayer sessions and for an alleged lack of piety.

In Feb. 2008, he angered many in the Capitol Community with an editorial in the Capitol Morning Report title “A Chaplains Worse Nightmare,” in which he declared that God was “disgusted” with many California legislators. “In the past several weeks I have visited with a Jewish legislator, a Catholic legislator and a liberal Protestant legislator – all of whom reject the Jesus of Scripture,” he wrote.

This prompted an ongoing back and forth between Drollinger, his supporters, and critics who called him “bigoted” and worse. Some questioned holding religious meetings in the Capitol, as well as the $120,000 annual salary Capitol Ministries reportedly paid to Drollinger.

Apparently, the Capitol Weekly article touched a nerve.

In 2010, Wikipedia administrators accused Drollinger of using multiple sockpuppets to remove links to the article. Evidence showed that a user named “RK Drollinger” had made several edits to Drollinger’s Wikipedia entry removing the links, and on three occasions had even referred to Drollinger in the first person on a Wikipedia discussion page:

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Admins then wrote to RK Drollinger asking them to stop interfering:

You should wait for others to write an article about subjects in which you are personally involved, instead of writing it yourself, as you did at Ralph Drollinger. This applies to articles about you, your achievements, your band, your business, your publications, your website, your relatives, and any other possible conflict of interest.

RK Drollinger was later banned from Wikipedia after an investigation by admins.

Sater the Sockpuppeteer

— Did former Trump advisor/Russian-American real estate mogul Felix Sater delete info about his criminal history from Trump’s Wikipedia page using a sockpuppet account? READ UPDATE HERE

When Trump’s Russia connections became a focus for journalists during the 2016 election, Felix Sater, a convicted racketeer and former government informant, was a key figure.

Felix Sater with Trump (source)

The Russian-born real estate mogul collaborated with Trump on a number of high-profile projects, and until recently was one of Trump’s senior advisors.

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In January, Sater even met with Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, to discuss a plan to lift sanctions against Russia.

Trump has denied having a close relationship with Sater. In 2013, he testified in a video deposition for a civil lawsuit that “if [Sater] were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.”

Apparently, the feeling is mutual.

In 2016, it appears Sater was banned from Wikipedia for deleting unflattering facts about himself from Trump’s Wikipedia entry using a sockpuppet account.

Here’s the rundown.

In late 2015, a Wikipedia user named “591J” deleted from the site information about “Sater’s mafia and Russian criminal ties, as well as a 1998 racketeering conviction.”

August 25, 2015 edit of Trump’s Wikipedia entry by user 591J (source)

When that information was later restored by a different user, 591J deleted Sater’s name and substituted it for “ex-convict.”

December 6, 2015 edit of Trump’s Wikipedia entry by user 591J (source)

In February 2016, 591J created Sater’s current Wikipedia entry, which was originally flagged by admins because they suspected 591J of having “a close connection” with Sater.

April 2016 draft of Felix Sater Wikipedia entry (source)

In April 2016, 591J was “blocked indefinitely” after an investigation by admins determined 591J had “abusively used” multiple accounts to promote Sater and delete information about which 591J had an undisclosed conflict of interest.

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After conducting a mini investigation of my own I found this promotional photo of Sater that 591J had uploaded to Wikipedia:

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Under the now-deleted photo I found the following copyright information:

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Note that:

1. The source information says that the photo of Sater is their “Own work”;
2. The author of the photo is “591J.”