Lyoness Wikipedia entry is being heavily censored
Lyoness’ Wikipedia entry was created on November 18th, 2009. It read:
Lyoness is an independent international shopping community, linked by a single country- and sector-spanning customer card that enables Lyoness customers to get their “money back with every purchase” benefit.
Hubert Freidl took up this inspired business idea, and many business partners soon joined him. In July 2003, he established the Lyoness Holding Europe AG. Today, Hubert Freidl is the CEO of Lyoness Holding Europe AG. He inspires the company and is its driving power.
On the 9th of December the entry was removed altogether, with the reason given that Lyoness was not notable enough to warrant its own Wikipedia page.
In January 2012 the entry was recreated, with a short statement and link to Lyoness’ corporate website:
Lyoness is an independent international shopping community extending across economic sectors. Hubert Freidl founded Lyoness in July 2003.
Today he is the CEO of Lyoness International AG and spearheads ideas as the driving force in the company.
That entry was nuked four days later due to ‘spam-like changes with notability issues‘.
Another entry was attempted a year later in March 2013, but was once again nuke citing Lyoness’ lack of notability.
In June 2013 someone calling themselves “Lyoness Expert” created another entry, and this time it stuck.
Lyoness Expert’s entry covered Lyoness’ foundation, its business model, “social involvement” (charity) and legal controversies. It was cited with 84 links, spanning Lyoness’ own website, European media outlets and regulatory agencies.
Nineteen days after it was created, someone tried to replace Lyoness Expert’s entry with a short paragraph citing only Lyoness corporate websites.
The revision was flagged as vandalism and reverted less than twenty-four hours later, but it marked the beginning of an ongoing campaign to scrub Lyoness’ Wikipedia entry of anything that might be perceived as controversial.
The same day the Lyoness entry was flagged for vandalism, a Wikipedia user by the name of “LyoNewMedia” (nothing corporate-sounding about that name) began editing the entry.
Their first action was to remove the following paragraph from the introduction of the entry:
The main corporation, then called ‘Lyoness Holding Europe AG’, was registered in 2003 by Iwan J. Ackermann, Max Meienberg and Uwe Proch.
In 2004, the publicly known CEO of Lyoness, Hubert Freidl, was hired by this corporation as a director.
Lyoness, in its entirety, has an estimated annual turnover of 1.2 billion euros (2012), with a self-proclaimed member total of 2,800,000 (as of June 2013) Lyoness is currently active in more than 40 countries spread over 6 continents.
Over the next few weeks Lyoness Expert and LyoNewMedia went backwards and forwards over edits to the entry. LyoNewMedia would attempt to scrub the article of information, only for Lyoness Expert to revert it.
From what I gather LyoNewMedia would cite “updating of figures” as the reason for an edit, and then proceed to rewrite significant unrelated portions of the entry. This included the deletion of parts of the entry they disagreed with, or felt didn’t describe Lyoness in the most positive light possible.
To give you an idea of what LyoNewMedia got up to, here’s a paragraph of text that LyoNewMedia deleted:
In 2008, the Austrian Chamber of Labour (‘Arbeiterkammer’) of Steiermark issued a warning against Lyoness, listing its alleged privacy violations, misleading advertising, deceptive information and unrealistic and negligible benefits as red flags for doing business with Lyoness.
[these next two paragraphs were deleted]
In 2010, the Vorarlberg branch of the Chamber of Labour issued a similar warning.
The Chamber warned against the unreliability of the discount vouchers, the false and deceptive information spread by Lyoness, privacy violations, the redundancy of the ‘Cashback card’ and the unlikeliness of receiving any returns on investments if no-one is recruited into the system.
Why did LyoNewMedia delete the information?
Not because it was inaccurate, but because ‘the referenced pdf file is not available anymore and therefore a source is missing‘.
Things had settled down between LyoNewMedia and Lyoness Expert by August 2013, but doesn’t mean edits to the Lyoness entry did.
On the 17th of October, a user by the name of Concepción Gil Rios attempted to delete large sections of the legality, television, income and internet sections of the entry. In they’re place Concepción Gil Rios left a few sentences of PR material with links to Lyoness corporate websites.
This change was flagged as vandalism and reverted. Concepción Gil Rios then attempted another censorship edit, but was blocked due to “unexplained removal of content”.
In November 2013 the legality section of the Lyoness entry, which cited numerous European reports and regulatory agencies, was replaced by an uncited “legal opinion” which claimed Lyoness was not a pyramid scheme.
It was reverted and cited as vandalism the same day the change was made.
In December the legality section of the entry was again vandalized and reverted.
January 2014 saw a user attempt to scrub the entry of any mention of downpayments and completely remove the legality, television, income and internet sections of the entry. The reason cited was “outdated info”.
These edits were again picked up as vandalism and reverted the same day they were made.
Large edits were again made to the controversy section of the entry in February 2014, in an attempt to inject Lyoness corporate opinions, through third-parties they had hired, into the entry (none of which were cited).
These changes were reverted a few days later.
In April someone tried to add the following paragraph to the controversy section of the entry:
Remember when reading any article, It is 2014, Lyoness has been in business for many years if it was an illegal pyramid it would not have made it this many years. Investigation to date show Lyoness is in good standing.
The edit was removed a day later for “unencyclopedic editorializing”.
August saw the news that Australia’s ACCC were suing Lyoness for being a pyramid scheme added to the entry, along with the conclusion of the Norwegian Gaming Board investigation.
Citing links to a Lyoness spam blog, user BlackArrow changed the following line:
Lyoness is suspected to be a Ponzi scheme in several of the countries it operates in.
Lyoness is suspected to be a Ponzi scheme in several of the countries it operates in but it is proven that it is not Ponzi scheme.
The entire sentence was removed from the entry a few days later.
On the 18th of October user “Bonnice” attempted to remove any mention of regulatory investigation into Lyoness in Australia and Norway.
No reason was provided for the edit, with the change reverted the same day it was made.
User DianaDettwyler tried again to remove any mention of regulatory investigation into Lyoness in December, with the censorship attempt reverted the next day.
That brings us to 2015, which thus far has seen the heaviest censorship take place yet.
On the 18th of February user BlackArrow completely erased any mention of court findings and the ongoing criminal investigation in Austria:
Lyoness is suspected to be a [[pyramid scheme]] in several of the countries it operates in. In homeland Austria, Lyoness has been declared a pyramid scheme by four independent civil courts.
Criminal investigations, however, are still ongoing.
The statement was cited with a link to an Austrian government website, with no reason cited for the deletion of the information.
BlackArrow’s deletion was eventually reverted a few weeks later, with user KnucklesKave citing it as vandalism.
In May user Metaperl began making edits to the Lyoness Wikipedia page, and from there things have gotten completely out of hand.
On the 31st of May 2015 meaperl completely nuked any mention of the Norwegian regulatory investigation, claiming that ‘the allegations against Lyoness in Norway are no longer applicable‘.
Citing a link to Lyoness corporate website, Metaperl wrote
Uh, what? Since when did the outcome of a regulatory investigation warrant determination of whether or not the investigation that took place be mentioned at all?
And that was only Metaperl’s opening shot.
On June 2nd Metaperl made no less than thirty-one edits to the Lyoness Wikipedia entry.
- the removal of acknowledgement that Lyoness is under scrutiny for conducting “illegal business practices”, primarily for being a pyramid scheme and/or Ponzi scheme, around the world
- removal of Swiss media article questioning sustainability after Lyoness investors were told ‘an investment of 3,000 CHF will eventually lead to 25,000 CHF in return, if enough new, down-paying members are recruited‘ (reason given for censorship: “There is no controversy in mathematically sound computations.”)
- removal of Swiss media reporting on an internal Lyoness corporate document mentioning bounties for information given to them about Lyoness critics, and resulting lawsuit against Lyoness critic in Switzerland (reason given for censorship: “The delicate business relations of Lyoness were being ruined by someone who did not use legal channels for his complaint. There is no controversy here.”)
- removing mention of a Swiss media article by Beobachter citing warning against Lyoness by the Swiss Consumer Union and Swiss Gambling Commission (reason given for censorship: “The information from Beobachter is inaccurate opinion content.”
- removing mention of a Swiss media article by Beobachter concluding that ‘the Lyoness business model seems to revolve around recruitment and recruiting activities instead of discounts and allowances and that Lyoness is internationally charged with forgery, fraud and hosting a pyramid scheme‘ (reason given for censorship: “Forgery, fraud and pyramid scheme allegations are better covered with results from court cases in the legal section.”
- removing mention that high-level Lyoness members have been involved in other pyramid schemes, cited with links to Swiss media articles (reason for censorship: “The legality of other systems implies nothing about the legality Lyoness.”)
- removal of link to BehindMLM translation of Norway Gaming Board’s announcement to investigate Lyoness, with link back to original Norwegian announcement (reason for censorship: “BehindMLM.com is a blog and not an authoritative source for legal evidence regarding Lyoness.”)
- deletion of paragraph referencing the notorious Dragon’s Den episode, in which a Lyoness affiliate pitches Lyoness to the judges, who then identify Lyoness as a pyramid scheme (reason given for censorship: “There is no controversy in that paragraph.”)
- removal of figures from Lyoness Income Disclosure that revealed ‘the vast majority of the members receives a lower commission than the 23 dollar monthly average‘ (reason given for censorship: “No controversy exists in accurate income disclosure. Furthermore, the stated numbers and terminology are out of date.”)
- removing mention of Judge’s decision in Austria that concluded ‘the business model of Lyoness is so “Ponzi-Scheme-like”, that contracts between Lyoness and its business partners are not valid.”‘, with cited link to Austrian court decision (reason given for censorship: “The citation is not verifiable.”)
- removal of Austrian media article citation that suggested ‘Lyoness has deceived the masses by operating an irrelevant shopping community‘ (reason given for censorship: “The citation is not verifiable because the link is broken.”)
- removal of information pertaining to a report by Austrian police dated December 2004, quoted below (reason given for censorship: “On Nov 8, 2014 Lyoness switched to a new set of terms and conditions. Statements about the historical Lyoness perhaps belong in a history section but provide no encyclopedic value in the context of today.”)
One year after Lyoness was founded, in 2004, the Austrian criminal police (Kriminalpolizei) published an article in the December issue of its organisation’s magazine, in which it warned for the resurfacing of Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes in Austria.
Lyoness was explicitly mentioned in this Article (publishing) article. Lyoness contested the allegations publicly.
In 2005, Austrian Parliament member, Johann Maier (Social Democratic Party of Austria) asked the then-incumbent Austrian Minister of Justice, Karin Gastinger about the reports filed against alleged pyramid schemes in Austria in 2004.
Lyoness was one of the organisations complaints were filed against.
- removal of information pertaining to a number of reports aired by Austrian media that were highly critical of Lyoness (reason given for censorship: “This evaluation of Lyoness could only apply to Lyconet currently. And based on the new business model does not apply there as well.”)
- removal of detailed founding corporate structure of Lyoness (reason given for censorship: “Begin the separation of this article into 2 articles – one on Lyoness and another on Lyconet.”)
- removal of any mention of Account Units (reason given for censorship: “Accounting units is a term used prior to Nov 8, 2014. Shopping units are the new term and their compensation is described in the Lyconet article.”)
Note that at the time of publication, there is nothing about shopping units in the Lyconet Wikipedia entry. Furthermore the history of the entry reveals there never was.
- removal of neutral explanation of Lyoness Friendship Bonus and Accounting Unit investment scheme (reason given for censorship: “Premium membership is irrelevant to Lyoness customers. Move discussion to Lyconet.”)
Again note that Metaperl did not move the discussion over to Lyconet, but instead just deleted the information and left it at that.
- removal of link to Lyconet website and MLM category designation of the Lyoness Wikipedia entry (reason given for censorship: “removed Lyconet related links from this article”)
- complete deletion of all information pertaining to legal history surrounding Lyoness, with the controversy, legality and internet sections of the entry removed entirely (reason given for censorship: “all controversy revolves around Lyconet not Lyoness”)
Of note is that, despite multiple references to certain information on the Lyconet Wikipedia entry, Metaperl has been active on that page too.
On the 2nd of June Metaperl deleted paragraph after paragraph of information pertaining to regulatory actions and investigation into Lyoness off the Lyconet website.
The reason given was “Keep the focus on current investigations as no past investigation has led to any serious penalties for Lyconet.”
So uh what? Nuke a ton of information from the Lyoness Wiki entry, blab on about it probably belonging on the Lyconet page and then nuke any mention of it on the Lyconet page because “it’s in the past”.
And what’s this crap about nuking the entire regulatory history of Lyoness?! Lyconet didn’t even exist when all that went down, and even if it did – all that information pertained to Lyoness.
To give you a complete picture of just how much information Metaperl censored, have a look at the direct comparison to how the Lyoness Wikipedia entry looked on the 26th of May, versus its current state.
All the yellow boxes on the right? That’s information Metaperl is trying to hide from Wikipedia readers.
At the time of publication the paragraphs upon paragraphs of information Metaperl has deleted have gone completely unchallenged.
Whether this is a bug or just due to those who previous watched over the page being unaware of the recent changes is unclear.
As it stands, the Lyoness Wikipedia entry reads as a bland extension of the Lyoness corporate website.
And I’m pretty sure that isn’t how Wikipedia editing is supposed to function…
Footnote: In the interests of transparency I’ll clarify that I’ve never personally made edits to the Lyoness Wikipedia page. Nor do I actively otherwise follow it.
I was made aware of the changes by a BehindMLM reader only earlier this morning.
Having taken a look at the Lyoness entry, I then chose to put together this article because I think the conduct of Metaperl (who let’s face it, is in all likelihood tied to Lyoness corporate), is an absolute disgrace.
Update 17th July 2015 – Metaperl has identified themselves as a Lyoness affiliate:
I have been a member of Lyoness since 2011.
The admission was made in the “talk” section of the Lyoness entry on July 16th.
Despite vigilant Wikipedia editors undoing Metaperl’s edits, the Lyoness affiliates continues to try and censor the Wikipedia Lyoness entry.
Metaperl’s latest attempt to scrub the entry was made on the 15th of July and undone the same day.