clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Wikipedia Blocks Nearly 400 'Black Hat' Accounts for Shady Editing

More than 200 pages have since been deleted.

Reuters / Dado Ruvic

Wikipedia editors have blocked hundreds of what they’re calling “black hat” or malicious editors for creating hundreds of fake pages and promoting their own interests using misinformation on existing pages, according to a spokesperson for the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that runs Wikipedia.

More than 380 accounts were blocked for “undisclosed paid advocacy,” a term used for editors who accept money to “promote external interests on Wikipedia without revealing their affiliation,” according to a Wikimedia post. Essentially, hackers were paid to spread misinformation across Wikipedia. (Volunteer editors have laid it all out here in full detail.)

So far, more than 200 pages have been deleted as a result of malicious editing, which Wikipedia editors are calling “Orangemoody” in reference to one of the bad actor’s usernames.

Wikimedia said it doesn’t know who is behind the attack. “It’s a little preliminary for us to say at this point,” a spokesperson said. You can read a list of the pages Wikipedia has since deleted here; most of them appear to be for fake people or businesses. Wikipedia editors are still reviewing other changes made by the group to determine if existing pages should also be deleted or simply edited.

This isn’t the first time Wikipedia has dealt with paid advocates editing its articles. It blocked hundreds of accounts back in 2013 for a similar issue.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.