Germany has a new minister of economic affairs. Mr. von und zu Guttenberg is descended from an old and noble lineage, so his official name is very long: Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg.
When first there were rumors that he would be appointed to the post, someone changed his Wikipedia entry and added the name ‘Wilhelm,’ so Wikipedia stated his full name as: Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Wilhelm Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg.
What resulted from this edit points up a big problem for our information society (in German; Google translation).
The German and international press picked up the wrong name from Wikipedia – including well-known newspapers, Internet sites, and TV news such as spiegel.de, Bild, heute.de, TAZ, or SÃ¼ddeutsche Zeitung. In the meantime, the change on Wikipedia was reverted, with a request for proof of the name.
The proof was quickly found.
On spiegel.de an article cites Mr. von und zu Guttenberg using his ‘full name’; however, while the quote might have been real, the full name seems to have been looked up on Wikipedia while the false edit was in place.
So the circle was closed: Wikipedia states a false fact, a reputable media outlet copies the false fact, and this outlet is then used as the source to prove the false fact to Wikipedia.