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Jesse Lava

Jesse is a campaign director at Brave New Foundation, where he runs Beyond Bars (http://beyondbars.org), which produces videos and graphics to curb mass incarceration.

February 21st, 2013 6:30 PM

Did GEO Group Scrub Its Wiki Page to Hide Its Past?

Private prison tries to edit history after deal to slap its name on a football stadium

Word came out this week that Florida Atlantic University had sold the naming rights to its new football stadium to the GEO Group, which is the second largest private prison company in America. Beyond Bars has a petition to stop this move, which has generated an outpouring of criticism. Video here:

It appears that in an effort to minimize the damage from this developing story, the GEO Group may have decided to give its Wikipedia page a facelift.

If you visited the page before the story became a New York Times headline, then you would have seen this section highlighting the company’s sordid past:

Soon, however, that entire section was nowhere to be found. Instead, there was a very corporate-friendly timeline touting the company’s history, successes, and high-points. So who made the change? All the edits appear to have been performed by someone named Abraham Cohen, and there just happens to be an Abraham Cohen employed by the GEO Group as a spokesman.

As a result of Mr. Cohen’s edits, Wikipedia added the following disclaimer to the top of the page:

Keepers of the Wiki faith seem to have undone those edits over the last day. But clearly, if GEO Group did indeed edit its own Wikipedia page, this is not a company that cares about the truth or an open dialogue. Otherwise, why go to all the trouble to hide the section labeled controversies that appeared on the page yesterday? This is a corporation that wants to control the information and discourage people from getting the entire story. Now aren’t those values completely antithetical to everything a university is supposed to stand for?

We think so. If you agree, then head over to Beyond Bars’ online petition asking Florida Atlantic University to drop the GEO Group.

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