There’s a conspiracy theorist working for the House of Representatives.
Thanks to the Twitter account @CongressEdits—a clever bot that tracks edits to Wikipedia pages made from IP addresses associated with Congress—we can present to you the wild editing adventures of IP address 18.104.22.168, assigned to the House of Representatives’ computer network, which include a handful of recent edits to pages that include “Reptilians,” “Moon landing conspiracy theories,” “Assassination of John F. Kennedy,” and “COINTELPRO.”
Moon landing conspiracy theories Wikipedia article edited anonymously from US House of Representatives http://t.co/uYnpzq4b0i— congress-edits (@congressedits) July 22, 2014
On the Reptilians page, for example, the unidentified federal employee(s) added the following declarative text to the article after a section about allegations of secret reptilian overlords: “These allegations are completely unsubstantiated and have no basis in reality.” Startlingly blunt language from someone (or a group of someones) who may be in a position to know more than is immediately apparent. Think about it, sheeple.
Reptilians Wikipedia article edited anonymously from US House of Representatives http://t.co/B7VLkhLsb8— congress-edits (@congressedits) July 23, 2014
It’s not clear whether this IP address belongs to one federal employee’s computer or to a block of computers and thus a group of people. A spokesperson for House of Representatives’ administrative office would not discuss the IP address or the congressional computer or computers associated with it.
“Due to security concerns I'm unable to discuss specifics about our computers and computer systems with you,” Dan Weiser, communications director for the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives, told the Daily Dot.
If the IP address belongs to one computer, then its owner has a lot of interesting viewpoints. If instead the IP address represents a group of computers, then perhaps there is a clandestine movement inside the House that's hell-bent on forcing its version of the "truth" on the American people. Either way, one or more legislators and/or staffers need to be more careful about their Wikipedia edits—because we’re onto them now.
The person or persons behind this IP address may be associated with the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, judging by another edit that dismisses theories about classified military operations. On the page called “Nevada Test and Training Range” (a.k.a. Area 51), the owner of the IP address added the cautionary note, “In spite of allegations to the contrary, the claims that extraterrestrials are housed in this facility are completely unsubstantiated.”
In addition, whoever uses this IP address removed text that suggested illegality from the page for COINTELPRO, a top-secret FBI investigation aimed at people whom the bureau considered political dissidents—including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sure, this congressional Wikipedia scribe summarized the edit as “Removed unsourced content,” and sure, the removed text cited a dead link, but how can we be sure the edit was as innocent as this person would have us believe?
Skepticism is especially warranted considering Wikipedia banned the IP address for 10 days after a 22.214.171.124 user dubbed Mediaite, which covered the IP address's edits, a "sexist transphobic" publication on its page without so much as a Yahoo Answers page citing the claim.
Mediaite Wikipedia article edited anonymously from US House of Representatives http://t.co/vUKj4tdj3K— congress-edits (@congressedits) July 23, 2014
Perhaps the most unsettling edit: IP address 126.96.36.199 changed the “Assassination of John F. Kennedy” page on two instances of the word “alone” (as in, “acting alone”) to “on behalf of the regime of Fidel Castro.”
What do you know that we don’t know, 188.8.131.52? If that is your real name.
Illustration by Jason Reed