Judges could be manipulated by Wikipedia articles, MIT study warns


Litigants could game Wikipedia to influence legal decisions, according to new research.

A study led by Neil Thompson from MIT’s Computer Science and AI Laboratory (CSAIL) discovered that judges were more likely to cite legal cases that have a Wikipedia article.

The finding has sparked  concerns that judicial decisions are being shaped by unreliable information. The openness of Wikipedia could also lead legal judgements to be manipulated.

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“A well-resourced litigant could encourage his legal team to anonymously integrate their own analysis of a relevant precedent into a Wikipedia article at an early stage of litigation, in the hope of later attracting the attention of the judge or his clerk,” Thompson told TNW.

The case against Wikipedia

Wikipedia is increasingly cited in legal scholarship and court judgments.

Busy judges use the site to keep up with developments in case law — but the shortcut is hazardous.

Wikipedia acknowledges that not everything on the site is accurate, comprehensive, or unbiased.