Someone who appears to have ties to the Greg Gianforte campaign has been altering references to an Associated Press report that shows the campaign was caught lying about its claim that Facebook refused to locate a data center in Montana because of the business equipment tax.
A Wikipedia user with the IP address “188.8.131.52“which has only edited Gianforte’s page, and that of no other Republicans or Democrats [screenshot], decided to scrub all of that and replace it with information to mitigate the GOPer being caught in a lie. [screenshot] Wikipedia allows anyone to edit its articles, but it also posts information showing what articles used to say and who added or deleted what passages and when.
One passage originally read:
In 2016, Gianforte, in a campaign speech, said Facebook had passed over Montana for a call center because of that state’s business equipment tax. Facebook’s spokesman Andy Stone said later that no discussions with Gianforte took place and that the tax was not the reason the company didn’t locate a call center in Montana.
The pro-Gianforte editor had changed the above statement to add nay, the very same assertion Gianforte tried to make in defense of his lie when discovered by the press. In lieu of a news article, the editor posted instead a link that sent readers to the MT Republican Party’s own website.
Facebook, speaking to the Associated Press, not only said Gianforte’s claims were untrue, they also debunked the Gianforte campaign’s defense (a somewhat revised and weakened regurgitation of the original lie).
The same editor has previously removed references to Gianforte’s donations to anti-LBGT groups. For example, one phrase removed previously was:
The foundation has donated over $1.1 million to anti‑LGBT organizations[…]
It was replaced by:
The foundation has donated tens of millions of dollars to various charities[…]
The original language, which is backed up with an AP story as its source, had since been restored at the time of this post. [screenshot] The resulting fall out of the scrubbing, of course, is more people to finding out about Gianforte’s lie than than those who were browsing over his Wikipedia page originally.
For example, in 2011 after Rick Hill’s campaign was caught scrubbing unflattering information from the candidate’s bio, the Billings Gazette wrote a story reporting on the scrubbing. Rick Hill’s page was later locked by Wikipedia administrator’s. Gianforte’s campaign is probably hoping to prevent a similar lock down, as they may need to be able to do more editing in the coming weeks.
Gianforte’s candidate’s page has been continually and heavily edited to remove references to religion, his ties to the Montana Family Foundation, and to the fringe groups to which Gianforte has donated.