Monday December 9, 2019
Home Lead Story Beijing Block...

Beijing Blocks Wikipedia in all Languages

Previously, most editions of Wikipedia -- besides the Chinese language version, which was reportedly blocked in 2015 -- were available, OONI said in their report

0
//
wikipedia
FILE - Wikipedia webpage in use on a laptop computer is seen in this photo illustration taken in Washington, January 17, 2012. VOA

Beijing has broadened its block of online encyclopedia Wikipedia to include all language editions, an internet censorship research group reported just weeks ahead of China’s most politically explosive anniversary.

According to a report by the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), China started blocking all language editions of Wikipedia last month. Previously, most editions of Wikipedia — besides the Chinese language version, which was reportedly blocked in 2015 — were available, OONI said in their report.

AFP could not open any of Wikipedia’s versions in China on Wednesday. “At the end of the day, the content that really matters is Chinese-language content,” said Charlie Smith, the pseudonym of one of the co-founders of Greatfire.org, which tracks online censorship in China.

wikipedia
According to a report by the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), China started blocking all language editions of Wikipedia last month. Wikimedia Commons

“Blocking access to all language versions of Wikipedia for internet users in China is just symbolic,” he told AFP. “It symbolises the fear that the Chinese authorities have of the truth.” Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organisation that operates Wikipedia, said it had not received any notices explaining the latest block.

According to the organisation, Wikipedia has been blocked intermittently in China since 2004. “With the expansion of this block, millions of readers and volunteer editors, writers, academics, and researchers within China cannot access this resource or share their knowledge and achievements with the world,” Samantha Lien, communications manager at Wikimedia Foundation, told AFP over email.

“When one country, region, or culture cannot join the global conversation on Wikipedia, the entire world is poorer,” she said. China’s online censorship apparatus — dubbed the “Great Firewall” — blocks a large number of foreign sites in the country, such as Google, Facebook, VOA, and The New York Times.

Topics that are deemed too “sensitive” are also scrubbed, such as the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen pro-democracy protesters which will mark its 30th anniversary on June 4.

wikipedia
Previously, most editions of Wikipedia — besides the Chinese language version, which was reportedly blocked in 2015 — were available, OONI said in their report. Pixabay

The expanded block of Wikipedia comes as Chinese authorities under Chinese President Xi Jinping ramp up online controls and crack down on Great Firewall circumvention tools, such as virtual private network (VPN) software.

ALSO READ: US Lawmakers Seek Probe to Control the Spread of Hacking Tools Sold Globally

In November, China’s cyberspace authority said it had “cleaned up” 9,800 accounts on Chinese social media platforms like messaging app WeChat and the Twitter-like Weibo that it accused of spreading “politically harmful” information and rumours. Chinese Twitter users have also told AFP that they have experienced intimidation from local authorities — and even detention — for their tweets.

The latest move to block all versions of Wikipedia could be linked to online translation tools, which make it easy for Chinese users to read anything on Wikipedia, Smith said. Images can also be considered taboo, he said. “A picture is worth a thousand words, and there is no dearth of Tiananmen-related imagery on the Wikipedia website,” Smith added. (VOA)

Next Story

Wikipedia Co-founder Launching Social Media Website “WT: Social”

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is launching a social-media website named "WT: Social" which will compete Facebook and Twitter

0
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is launching a social media website names "WT: Social". Pixabay

Intended to get right what Facebook and Twitter have so far been getting wrong, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is launching a social-media website named “WT: Social” which will compete with both the social media platforms.

Instead of going for an ad-funded model, Wales aims to finance it through donations, just like Wikipedia.

Like those platforms, WT:Social will let users share articles. But WT:Social will be funded by donations, rather than advertising.

Wikipedia, Social Media
Like other social media platforms,Wikipedia’s WT:Social will let users share articles. Pixabay

“The business model of social media companies, of pure advertising, is problematic. It turns out the huge winner is low-quality content,” Wales was quoted as saying by Financial Times, according to an Engadget report.

It started as Wikitribune — a site that published original news stories with the community fact-checking and sub-editing articles. The venture never gained much traction, so Wales is moving it to the new platform with a more social networking focus.

Also Read- Questions Raised On End-to-End Encryption Of WhatsApp For Snooping

WT:Social will be free to join, but at the moment, you either have to sign up for a waitlist, donate or invite friends. Just a month old, it already has 50,000 users, the Engadget report added. (IANS)