Brazilian minister asks federal police to investigate Wikipedia

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  • August 9, 2012

By Isabela Fraga

Brazilian Minister Gilmar Mendes of the Federal Supreme Court asked federal police to open an investigation into Wikipedia for its distorted and "ideological" posts, reported the newspaper Estado de São Paulo.

Mendes already had requested that the editors make changes to a post about him, but the request was denied. According to the website Olhar Digital, the minister's argument is that the article "Gilmar Mendes" includes six paragraphs with accusations, currently contested in court, that extend beyond his term in office.

The conflict between the minister and Wikipedia focuses on volunteer editor Chico Venâncio. On his blog, Venâncio wrote about the history of edits to the article and criticized the minister for using the press to resolve a problem that, according to him, could be solved using Wikipedia's internal mechanisms.

By the afternoon of Thursday, Aug. 9, the article on Gilmar Mendes had been edited 609 times. So far, 2012 has been the year with the most edits (203, representing 32 percent of the total edits), including one that mentions that the minister called for the investigation of Wikipedia. The discussion page on the Mendes article has become a battleground between those who view the article as favorable to the minister and those who think it too critical.

Even though anyone can edit a Wikipedia page, editorial decisions are made between the online encyclopedia's volunteer editors, explained a behind-the-scenes report on Wikipedia in Brazil by the magazine Piauí.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.