Who’s That Behind Wikipedia?

Ξ September 14th, 2008 | → | ∇ Uncategorized |

Earlier this year, our petition received some bitter posts from someone using the handle “The Real East Los.”  The poster said, among other things,

“Wow, look at all these outsiders thinking they know what’s best for us poor brown folks.  Twice a year they put down their quiche and lobster bisque to come slummin’ in the Eastside for some tacos - except those of you who stop by more often after scoring some weed in the projects.  […]  All you uppity white folks can get back in your Range Rovers and head to the Westside for some goat cheese pizza and creme brulee — and let us Mexicans work this out.”

And later,

“This policy affects ONLY UNINCORPORATED AREAS OF THE COUNTY.  About 99% of you who signed on are outsiders who slum in the Eastside every once in a great while.  This policy applies to taco trucks EAST of Indiana St.  […]  Most of you gringos don’t venture this far into the Eastside anyway.  You can still drive over the bridge, score some weed, get some tacos, and head safely back home before the big bad brown folks get you.”

There’s a lot to say about these comments, but the obvious points are these: Clearly “The Real East Los” is well versed with the law, and quite familiar with the specifics of where the county/city line is.

Now, there’s also something much less obvious about this post that we noticed.  Every time a comment is posted, the IP address (essentially a unique internet ID) is noted.  Interestingly, the IP address (159.83.252.234) for the two posts is registered to the County of Los Angeles.

Stay with me, because it gets better.


In  April, somebody took the time to post a section about the controversy on Gloria Molina’s Wikipedia page.  On September 10th, the entire “Controversy” section was wiped out, white-washed like a mural in the Arroyo Seco. Fortunately, Wikipedia also notes the IP address of anybody who makes a change to an article.  Want to guess the address responsible for this change?

That’s right, the exact same eleven digits: 159.83.252.234.

On several occasions, going back to December, Gloria Molina’s page has had any section regarding controversy (tacos or murals) erased by somebody at the same address. Furthermore, this same IP address has changed passages to the articles of fellow supervisors Mike Antonovich, Don Knabe, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors article.

In all fairness, it’s impossible for us to identify any specific county office, official, or department responsible for these racially loaded posts and Orwellian Wikipedia edits.  Nevertheless, this underscores the absolute necessity that we avoid complacency and insist our elected officials represent the majority over the “Big Taco” minority.

Notes:

See the posts from “The Real East Los” here (#379 and #384), and here (#14).
The registration info for 159.83.252.234 can be found here.
One of the many Wikipedia edits can be seen here.

Our internal view of a posting:

 

4 Signatures to ' Who’s That Behind Wikipedia? '

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  1. db signed,

    on September 15th, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    A NSlookup returns this name for that address:

    Name: pc9631.temp2.co.la.ca.us
    Address: 159.83.252.234

    I’m wondering if pc9631 might refer to a specific PC within the county network. Though it obviously could be any kind of device, it doesn’t look like a name which would be assigned to a router. So, just where is PC-9631?

  2. buzzcowboy signed,

    on September 15th, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Interesting post - I mentioned it today in our recap of the great taco debate law. http://blog.cafepress.com/?p=977

    Mmm. Tacos.

  3. Vance signed,

    on September 15th, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    A little insight on the County Internet system. Most County departments go through Internal Services Department (ISD) to provide their Internet access. Each department has to pay ISD a certain amount of money per month to access the Internet, as opposed to the default access, which is only restricted to sites within the lacounty.gov or co.la.ca.us domains. Some departments also have a second tier of “whitelisted” sites which are other sites that have a relation to the job description and/or type of work done by the department, so they can give employees access to a broader range of sites without having to pay the ISD toll for full Internet access. (These departments also tend to be stricter on Internet access than the ones without the technical sophistication to create their own proxy server.)

    Looking at some logs, it does appear that each computer has a unique IP address and they are not shared. The proxy server changes the address coming out, so that at work, I might have a 10.x.x.x address, but when seen on the Internet, I have a 159.83.x.x address. No, you can’t tell which department is accessing your computer from, not without asking ISD. For all you know, it could also be coming from the public library, which uses the same ISD system. Most of the big departments do Random Internet Monitoring anyway, but in the case of Board of Supervisors staff, the deputies are essentially at will employees (not civil service) so they can do as much as their boss, the elected politician, will let them.

  4. admin signed,

    on September 15th, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Vance,

    Thanks for the insight, and you are correct about the many possibilities.

    We realized as much–I mean that it might be coming from from somewhere as benign as the County library. And while it is entirely possible that one of Gloria Molina’s young fans frequently visits the County library and then takes their limited internet time to “clean up” the Wiki page of his/her favorite politician, I prefer to lean more towards Occam’s Razor. Is that really the simplest explanation? Also true, of course, is how many computers filter through that one single IP address. But then, who outside County offices has such a vested interested in repeatedly clearing out public information…

    All we can do is wonder.

    Thanks again!
    Aaron

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