Indian IT ministry summons Wikipedia execs over vandalism of cricketer Arshdeep Singh’s page

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In India, the game of cricket is often termed as a religion in itself. And rightly so, considering the following this game has in the subcontinent region, which houses over 1.5Bn cricket crazy fans. A cricket match can make you either a hero or a villain. Young Indian pacer Arshdeep Singh found that out the hard way after his Wikipedia page was edited to reflect “Khalistan associations” after he dropped what could have been a match-winning catch.

Following this development, India’s Ministry of Electronics & IT summoned several executives from Wikipedia to explain how the fake information on the Wikipedia page was published on the website. It noted that “no intermediary operating in India can permit this type of misinformation.”

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister for Electronics & IT, took a grim view on something that looked to be deliberate efforts to incitement and harm the cricketer, which is in violation of the government’s expectations of safe and trusted internet.”

For their part, the Wikipedia officials denied any involvement in the post, save that the changes had been taken down by their editors about 15 minutes after they were made.

The edit history of Arshdeep’s Wikipedia page showed that an unregistered user had changed his name to “Major Arshdeep Singh Bajwa,” as well as replaced the words “India” with “Khalistan” at several locations on the profile. For example, the edited Wikipedia page read, “He made his international debut for Khalistan in July 2022. In August 2022, he was named in Khalistan’s Asia Cup Squad.”

The history also revealed that the unregistered editor was using the internet protocol (IP) address 39.41.171.125, and address that was traced back to the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL).

In India, cricket is akin to a religion. And in international cricket, there are few things that can match the intensity of an India-Pakistan match. However, actions on the field have often resulted in off-field fallout and consequences, and the nail-biting match between the neighbouring countries on Sunday was no different.

Support for the youngster came pouring in after the edits were made to Arshdeep’s Wikipedia page. “Stop criticising young @arshdeepsinghh No one drop the catch purposely..we are proud of our boys .. Pakistan played better.. shame on such people who r putting our own guys down by saying cheap things on this platform bout Arsh and team.. Arsh is GOLD,” tweeted Harbhajan Singh, former Indian cricketer.

Fake information and threats to communal harmony by hate speech are threats that big companies are taking to heart, more so because they face pressure by the government regarding these areas. Social networking sites such as Facebook, and tech giants such as Google and Apple have clamped down hard over the dissemination of fake information over the years.

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