Note: Information gathered in this report and more information not published here was turned over to ABC News who subsequently attempted to contact one of the subjects involved. According to their report, the subject flatly denied any involvement. Police know who the person is, but will neither confirm or deny the identity of the Wikipedia user, (whose computer equipment has been seized) at this point. Instead police will be releasing the Wikipedia user's identity next week, according to Lt. Tommy Pope of the Fayette County, Ga., Sheriff's Department.
Yesterday it was widely reported by Fox News, the Associated Press, ABC News, digg and a host of other news sites (and originally on Wikinews) that an anonymous user on Wikipedia altered the online encyclopedia's article on Chris Benoit noting the death of the pro-wrestler's wife some 13-14 hours before police found the dead bodies of Benoit, his wife, and 7-year-old son. The incident is being treated as a murder-suicide.
What the anonymous user on Wikipedia may have failed to realize is that little about your activity on Wikipedia (or the rest of the internet) is anonymous.
Anytime an edit is made to a Wikipedia page, that information along with the user's IP address is logged by the site and publicly accessible. A simple check of these logs paints a much clearer picture of the person who made the aforementioned edits: not someone affiliated with the WWE as the mainstream media suggested, but rather a teenager from the University of Connecticut who just finished his first year of college and vandalizes Wikipedia on a regular basis.
The user who made the Benoit Wikipedia edit also made several changes dating back to May 16th of this year. In one edit to the page on Naugatuck, Connecticut page, he replaces the name of the town's mayor to Marc Dagz, adding Visar Tasimi as the deputy mayor and also adding the name Burton Barnes to the page.
When these names are cross-referenced on the social-networking website facebook, it is revealed that both Dagz and Barnes are friends and current UConn students whose hometown is, unsurprisingly, Naugatuck, Connecticut. A check to Tasimi's facebook and MySpace pages shows he is also a friend of the other two from Naugatuck and attending UConn. All of the three recently finished their first year of college. While not knowing which person made the edits for certain, given the specific nature of the other edits and corroborating evidence, it seems almost certain the edits were made by either Marc D'Agnone (Dagz), Visar Tasimi, Burton Barnes, or one of their close associates (and one might lean towards 'Dagz', given his sudden promotion to mayor of his own hometown).
The IP address associated with the user was also widely reported in the media as resolving to Stamford, Connecticut - the headquarters of the WWE. While these facts are in and of themselves true, what most media outlets neglected to mention was that the IP address resolves to the Internet Service Provider of the user and the physical location of the ISP's server. The ISP in this case is Optimum Online, a provider of high-speed internet access across Connecticut - and the location of this server is less than 50 miles away from Naugatuck.
The user was also warned several times in the past for vandalizing and posting erroneous information on Wikipedia. Among them:
On Stacy Keibler:
People want to fuck her in her lovely cunt and whip her ass til the dawn of day. Many people fantasize about ramming their cocks up her asshole.
Regarding Ron Artest:
Artest is a piece of shit nigger!!!!!!!
At one point he also replaces the entire page on the African Wild Ass with, simply, 'piss.'
No, this wasn't a person who had foreknowledge of a tragic murder-suicide, it was more likely an immature college freshman with too much time on his hands and a crass sense of humor... whose vandalism just happened to hit a little too close to home.
UPDATE: Wikinews (a seperate project from Wikipedia) is reporting that the user, logging in under the same IP address as the above edits, admits that it was indeed a huge coincidence. Wikinews administrators (and Wikinews logs) confirm it is the same IP address as the original Wikipedia user.
It is one of those things that just turned into a bizarre coincidence. That night I found out that what I posted, ended up actually happening, a 1 in 10,000 chance of happening, or so I thought. I was beyond wrong for posting wrongful information, and I am sorry to everyone for this. I just want everyone to know it was stupid of me, and I will never do anything like this again. I just posted something that was at that time a piece of wrong unsourced information that is typical on wikipedia, as it is done all the time.
Also, I'd like to apologize for my other wiki "updates" on other pages as they were immature and dumb, but I know I'm not the only one who has done this, but nonetheless I will never post anything like that again as I have learned from this.
UPDATE: The user has been contacted by authorities and his computer equipment tied to the posting has been seized by police.
"It is unbelievable what a hindrance this has put on our investigation," said Lt. Tommy Pope, a spokesman for the Fayette County, Ga., Sheriff's Department.
According to the Lt. Pope via the ABC News report, authorities will reveal the identity of the Wikipedia user next week.
Moral of the story: Your actions on Wikipedia, facebook, and MySpace are hardly anonymous and it would be wise not to treat them as such (and, if given the option, the media will run with half of a story that might turn out to be dubious, in the name of being first and provocative).