The widely-used online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia, has one simple law in its business model: pages have to be edited and fact-checked by Wikipedia editors who are often volunteers.
Four of these Wikipedia editors have been handed a R10 million ($10 million) lawsuit after they apparently wilfully, and knowingly, edited the biographical entry of philanthropist Yank Barry to reflect negatively on him. The editors have been slapped with “wrongful conduct, defamation and invasion of privacy” according to the court papers.
Barry was involved in a kickback scheme between the Texan prison system and his company VitaFoods in the mid-1990s, and was eventually found guilty of taking at least $20 000 from VitaPro Foods in exchange for signing a long-term distribution deal. Barry was eventually acquitted on charges of bribery, money laundering and conspiracy in 2008.
The lawsuit filed in the Ventura County’s Superior Court states that the “four editors conspired to tarnish the name of the entrepreneur.”
According to the talk section for Barry’s Wikipedia page, editor Richard Fife “made a clear statement about his agenda to maintain defamatory material on the subjects page in order to cause financial harm and threaten the subjects livelihood,” to which he later added that it wasn’t his “finest Wikipedia moment”.
Barry argues that he tried a number of ways to resolve the matter, but in the end had to resort to legal action. “My page was so ridiculously false and made me sound like a terrible person and people believed it causing deals to fall through. I finally had enough,” Barry told PR NewsChannel.[Source – Daily Dot]