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Wikipedia had no idea what YouTube was up to

by Justin Herrick | March 15, 2018March 15, 2018 3:00 pm PST

YouTube and the Wikimedia Foundation, the group behind the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia, haven’t been talking but one side gave the impression there’s a partnership between them.

Earlier this week, it looked like the two sides were coming together to combat conspiracy theories on YouTube. The video streaming service has always been a place for baseless claims to fester, but in the era of Fake News, conspiracy theories have ramped up significantly. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki sat down for an interview at SWSW where she said any conspiracy theory-related videos would be paired with “a companion unit” from Wikipedia laying out the facts.

The Wikimedia Foundation, however, was never told about the idea until Wojcicki actually said something. So the organization had to step forward with a statement saying that, while it does not condone conspiracy theories, it does not have an official partnership with YouTube.

Here’s the full statement:

Although it doesn’t have a partnership in place with the Wikimedia Foundation, YouTube is still free to use content from Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia doesn’t require any fee for access. It’s a hub of content generated by the world for everyone to use. Early on it seemed that Wikipedia was unreliable, but now what you find there is generally trustworthy.

Those who’ve long supported the organization’s mission and Wikipedia’s growth have expressed their concerns on social media. Some believe that, by having Wikipedia’s information attached to conspiracy theories, vandalism could rise.

Also, the decision might come across as YouTube relying on others to solve its problems. Many have criticized the service for not doing enough to moderate its community. Between harassment and conspiracy theories alone, YouTube’s had a lot to deal with and little results shown so far.

YouTube hasn’t said exactly when the Wikipedia-based integration will arrive, and we’ll have to see if it actually helps lessen the impact of conspiracy theories getting millions of views.

Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...

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