Non-English Wikipedia has a misinformation problem
misinformation nonenglish wikipedia englishsatoslate Wikipedia doesn’t exactly enjoy a reputation as the most reliable source on the internet. But a report released in June by the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, suggests that the digital encyclopedia’s misinformation woes may run even deeper than many of its English-speaking users realize.
In the report’s summary, the foundation acknowledged that a small network of volunteer administrators of the Croatian-language version of Wikipedia have been abusing their powers and distorting articles “in a way that matched the narratives of political organizations and groups that can broadly be defined as the Croatian radical right.” For almost a decade, the rogue administrators have been altering pages to whitewash crimes committed by Croatia’s Nazi-allied Ustashe regime during World War II and to promote a fascist worldview. For example, it was reported in 2018 that Auschwitz—which English Wikipedia unambiguously deems a concentration camp—was referred to on Croatian Wikipedia as a collection camp, a term that carries fewer negative connotations. The Jasenovac concentration camp, known as Croatia’s Auschwitz, was also referred to as a collection camp.
Croatian Wikipedia users have been calling attention to similar discrepancies since at least 2013, but the Wikimedia Foundation began taking action only last year. That the disinformation campaign went unchecked for so long speaks to a fundamental weakness of Wikipedia’s crowdsourced approach to quality control: It works only if the crowd is large, diverse, and independent enough to reliably weed out assertions that run counter to fact.
By and large, the English version of Wikipedia meets these criteria. As of August 2021, it has more than 120,000 editors who, thanks to the language’s status as a lingua franca, come from a diversity of geographic and cultural backgrounds. English Wikipedia is considered by many researchers to be almost, but still not quite as accurate as traditional encyclopedias. But Wikipedia exists in more than 300 languages, half of which have fewer than 10 active contributors. These non-English versions of Wikipedia can be especially vulnerable to manipulation by ideologically motivated networks.
I saw this for myself earlier this year, when I investigated disinformation on the Japanese edition of Wikipedia. Although the Japanese edition is second in popularity only to the English Wikipedia, it receives fewer than one-sixth as many page views and is run by only a few dozen administrators. (The English-language site has nearly 1,100 administrators.) I discovered that on the Japanese Wikipedia, similar to the Croatian version, politically motivated users were abusing their power and whitewashing war crimes committed by the Japanese military during World War II
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Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world, and its newest protocol, the August-Novemberlapowsky Protocol (ANP), is a major development for users of the platform. The ANP provides users with greater control over their data and how it is shared on the platform. It also ensures that Facebook remains compliant with the latest international standards for online privacy. This article will discuss how the ANP works and why it should be an important consideration for Facebook users.
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