Thursday October 17, 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

Wikitribune: Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Launches Site to Fight Fake News

0
The founder of Wikipedia has launched a new website to fight fake news. VOA

April 25, 2017: The founder of Wikipedia is starting a website he says will fight so-called fake news.

Jimmy Wales says his Wikitribune site will bring journalists and volunteer fact checkers together to stop the spread of false news stories.

“We want to make sure that you read fact-based articles that have a real impact in both local and global events,” according to the group’s website.

NewsGram brings to you current foreign news from all over the world.

The volunteer fact checkers’ role will be similar to how editors work on Wikipedia. Any changes will be reviewed by other fact checkers.

The site will also carry stories by professional journalists.

Unlike most news sites, Wikitribune says it will post full transcripts of interviews “to the maximum extent possible.”

“It takes professional, standards-based journalism, and incorporates the radical idea from the world of wiki that a community of volunteers can and will reliably protect the integrity of information,” said Wales, according to CNN.

Money to fund the site will come from contributions as opposed to advertisements or subscriptions.

Check out NewsGram for latest international news updates.

“[Fake news] is literally designed to show us what we want to see, to confirm our biases, and to keep us clicking at all cost,” Wales said. “It fundamentally breaks the news.”

Some experts as skeptical, saying the site may only appeal to journalists and people who read a lot of news.

“I wonder whether it will be able to scale up to make a significant impact on the information sphere, especially on social networks such as Facebook where the main problems of fake news and misinformation occur,” saidCharlie Beckett, a professor at the London School of Economics, in an interview with CNN.

Wales’ Wikipedia has long battled criticism that it contains misleading or false information. (VOA)