Wikipedia’s parent company, Wikimedia, has recently sent a cease and desist letter to a PR firm for engaging in an activity known as “sockpuppetry”.

For the uninitiated, “sockpuppetry” is essentially the practice of altering Wikipedia articles to make a company, person or client look better from a PR perspective. Wikipedia’s concern about this practice, is that it undermines the objective and truthful nature of the articles on the free website.

In their letter to Wiki-PR, Wikimedia’s lawyers state that:

… this practice violates the Wikimedia Foundation’s Terms of Use … This practice also gives rise to a number of potential legal claims, including statutory and common law fraud, unfair business practices, breach of contract, and trespass to chattels.

While this act by Wikimedia may seem small, it sends a message to public relations and marketing firms worldwide that Wikipedia is aware of the practice of “sockpuppetry” and is willing to take practical and legal steps to stop it from happening.