Wal-Mart's changes to Wikipedia entries exposed

A new tool has exposed a number of well-known corporations that deleted negative aspects of their Wikipedia entries--removing one of the main things that distinguishes Wikipedia from their own corporate websites, its balance.

From Walmart Watch Daily Clips, here is an example:


[Citation #1] New tool exposes self-edits in Wikipedia [PC World via Washington Post]
A word of caution about editing entries "anonymously" in Wikipedia: a tool has been developed that can show who made the changes...Someone on Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s network, for instance, altered alineabout the wages it pays employees. The original entry stated that "Wages at Wal-Mart are about 20% less than at other retail stores," citing the author Greg Palast as the source. The revised entry reads: "The average wage at Wal-Mart is almost double the federal minimum wage," and changes the attribution to Wal-Mart.

[Citation #2] See Who's Editing Wikipedia - Diebold, the CIA, a Campaign [Wired Magazine]
Wal-Mart has a series of relatively small changes in 2005 that that burnish the company's image on its own entry while often leaving criticism in, changing a line that its wages are less than other retail stores to a note that it pays nearly double the minimum wage, for example. Another leaves activist criticism on community impact intact, while citing a "definitive" study showing Wal-Mart raised the total number of jobs in a community.

Having exposed the exposure, read below the fold for many more reasons for city officials to oppose Wal-Mart's growth and activists' obligation to ask city council candidates The Question.

Wal-Mart has also been in the news locally for becoming a issue in the Fircrest WA City Council races, where the Mayor, who has been on the council since 1992 and mayor since 1994, has drawn two primary opponents because he heeded the counsel of his city counsel and did not hold public hearings on Wal-Mart's attempt to site a supercenter in Fircrest, outside of Tacoma. City counsel counseled the Mayor to "remain neutral," which he took to mean, "hide from the issue." An experienced politician should have known better than to let the fears of the town's lawyer overrule good public process. Look it up in the Tacoma News Tribune.

In Snohomish County, Wal-Mart's efforts to expand from one location (Marysville's Quilcene Center, since 1999) to five locations (south Everett is open) including Arlington, have slowed.  It seems that tonier Mill Creek is resisting being added to the list. Look it up in the Everett Herald.

Why would activists want to oppose the spread of Wal-Mart in their community? Aside from the poor wages, poor health insurance, forced part-time work, massive discrimination against women, Internet snooping, fake "Astroturf" bloggers, environmental degradation, poorly supervised dangerous parking lots, mislabeled "organic" foods, Chinese toys, Chinese labor in 80% of the products, music and movie censorship, virulent anti-labor activities, unmitigated traffic impacts, unjustified demands for multimillion-dollar tax breaks and street construction (and later abandonment of the site)?

Here's one more reason that cities should oppose Wal-Mart:

In the average American county, when a Wal-Mart opens, 250 people at nearby stores lose their jobs and four local businesses close entirely within five years. [Charles Fishman, The Wal-Mart Effect, 2006]

Obviously, in this "off-year" election cycle, candidates for city councils should be asked, hypothetically, if they support or oppose the siting of a Wal-Mart supercenter store in their town, and why. (For anyone who thinks this doesn't apply to Seattle, consider that Chicago approved three Wal-Mart supercenters.

Let's hold the discussion now, instead of when it may be too late!

(All this from reading the Wal-Mart Watch Daily Clips: http://action.walmartwatch.com)

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Why do you oppose Wal-Mart?
The cheap, shoddy, mislabeled, dangerous products
The underpaid, non-union workforce
The unsupervised, crime-ridden parking lots
The envirnmmental leaks and acres of parking
The loss of local jobs and small businesses from towns
The discrimination against women and minorities
The ill-treatment of American manufacturing businesses
The censorship of music and movies
The unmitigated traffic impacts, or tax giveaways for mitigation
Their documented lies

Votes: 6
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  Walmart is another one of those opportunities to 'haul out the soapbox', and in fact, I had just such an opportunity yesterday with the discussion winding up that he was more pleased to pay less for lawn mower at Walmart despite that he conceded all the points I made about Walmart as accurate.  In the final bit of discussion, where he moved to dismissing me as unrealistic and 'everybody' knows there is nothing that can be done about it, I knew he'd run out of defensive steam.

  My reply - of course there is something that can be done about it.  First take even the idea of shopping at Walmart off your radar screen then you will never have to be worrying about price comparisons and it won't even cross your mind to think you can get a better deal at Walmart than elsewhere.  Second, realize that the cost saved is multiplied by the hundreds and thousands in actual cost in jobs and manufacturing in this country; small business in communities; community infrastructure destroyed; your children and grandchildren and the erosion of their piece of the American dream; and exploitation of working people in another country.

  That is about where he interrupted me with some dismissive comment that would imply I am some sort of alien alone in the world of consumers.  I responded that if Americans would simply stop buying Walmart, it would throw a rather big cog into the works.  And then he really wanted to show the group what an idiot I was with such impossible thinking.  To which I replied, it might be useful to actually listen to another point of view rather than mocking it.

  My mother, living in University Place, next to Fircrest, has been keeping me apprised of the community effort of Fircrest to keep Walmart out.  Yesterday she told me that it was University Place that had a little something to do with the success of Fircrest keeping Walmart out, since University Place would not grant roadway access to the intended site.  

I liked this;

The original entry stated that "Wages at Wal-Mart are about 20% less than at other retail stores," citing the author Greg Palast as the source. The revised entry reads: "The average wage at Wal-Mart is almost double the federal minimum wage," and changes the attribution to Wal-Mart.
  ....  is this a classic case of 'reframing' so that what is a potentially negative factoid appears to become a positive factoid?

Thanks for posting the diary, Sarajane.  I think the saga of Walmart placements is highly relevant in WA state and that not a certain amount of politics is involved community to community.  Shifting from welcoming Walmarts for cheap prices, saving consumers $$ (and I do empathize with hard pressed economy and need to save cents and $$, we also have to work hard at doing exactly that), to the larger and real political costs to consumers, economy and consumers is an important discussion at Washblog - imo.  

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends." Martin Luther King Jr.

by Lietta Ruger on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 09:51:22 AM PST

* 1 none 0 *

Wal-Mart's business model is to based on wealth transfer (aka theft). They steal from their suppliers, customers, employees, the government (local, state, and federal), etc. They do not create wealth. They're merely a parasite.

by zappini on Mon Aug 20, 2007 at 07:30:23 AM PST

* 2 none 0 *

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