Arshdeep Singh’s Wikipedia page vandalised to show Khalistan link, fixed later
Reports indicate that the crowd-sourced digital encyclopaedia may be asked to explain why these changes were done by the government of India
Indian cricketer Arshdeep Singh was the target of vicious online trolling after his side lost to Pakistan in the Asia Gup game on Sunday night, with some vandalising his Wikipedia page to claim he was linked to the separatist Khalistani movement.
Reports indicate that the crowd-sourced digital encyclopaedia may be asked to explain why these changes were done by the government of India, but HT could not immediately obtain a confirmation.
According to the edit history of Singh’s Wikipedia page, an unregistered user replaced the words “India” with “Khalistan” at several locations on the profile at 12:28am India Standard Time (IST).
This user also edited his name to first read “Major Arshdeep Singh Langra” and, a minute later, to “Major Arshdeep Singh Bajwa”. This person also made some random changes to Singh’s game statistics.
The user also replaced the word India to Khalistan in links cited to support claims on the page, leading to a purported timesofkhalistan that does not exist.
All of these changes were undone by an anonymous Wikipedia editor roughly 15 minutes later.
Wikipedia is a wiki, a collaborative database or service where anyone can add or edit content. While anyone is allowed to make or suggest edits, the service follows a strict logging mechanism.
The version history for Singh’s page shows that the user who made those changes was unregistered and was using the internet protocol (IP) address 126.96.36.199.
Looked up using a internet address whois lookup service showed that the IP address was like in use in Pakistan. IP address allocation records showed this particular address was allocated to the Pakistan Telecommuication Company Limited (PTCL), Pakistan’s national telecoms provider (the equivalent of India’s BSNL).
To be sure, IP addresses can be spoofed using VPN services and if a VPN service is leveraging PTCL’s servers, someone sitting outside of Pakistan too would be able to spoof the above as their address. But the likelihood of that is minimal and the chances that the user who changed Singh’s Wikipedia page was very likely in Pakistan.
How do edits work
Anyone can add or edit articles on Wikipedia, which, as on Monday, had over 6.45 million articles. But for a small number of articles, typically those relating to popular topics, people or places, there are additional protections that kick in when a page is locked (a padlock turns up on the top right corner for any unauthorised user).
According to Wikipedia, “in some circumstances, pages may need to be protected from modification by certain groups of editors. Pages are protected when a specific damaging event has been identified that cannot be prevented through other means such as a block”.
In this case, these changes went live because the page was not protected and the edits were minor (major edits are likely to draw more attention). But in keeping with its protected pages policy, a Wikipedia administrator locked Singh’s profile till September 21 once the vandalism was fixed.
Like Singh’s case demonstrated, there is usually a very close eye of Wikipedia’s large community of volunteers on the changes happening and usually, malicious changes are detected and fixed within minutes, if not by the hour.