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Wikimedia Europe

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NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Michael S Adler, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stefan Krause, Germany, FAL, via Wikimedia Commons

Markus Trienke, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Benh LIEU SONG (Flickr), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

JohnDarrochNZ, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

disinformation

We need a Digital Knowledge Act

A digital knowledge act for europe

In December 2023 the Communia Association, which Wikimedia Europe is a member of, rolled out the idea of a Digital Knowledge Act at the European Union level. A EU regulation that makes the interests of knowledge institutions, such as libraries, universities and schools, a top priority. 

In the past five years we have seen the EU tackling various specific digital issues through legislation – content moderation through the Digital Services Act, market power through the Digital Markets Act, data sharing through the Data Act and the Data Governance Act. All these were necessary steps, we believe, they however treated institutions, such as libraries, archives, universities and schools, almost as an afterthought.  

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European Media Freedom Act: some reflections from Wikimedia Europe

The European Media Freedom Act is a proposal for regulation put forward by the EU Commission in September 2022 aiming at safeguarding media freedom and pluralism in Europe. For Wikimedia it is relevant, because, on the one hand, it wants to regulate how online platforms moderate content by media service providers and, on the other, it introduces some general rules of media law, including the protection of journalists.

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Europe Needs Digital Public Spaces That Are Independently Moderated and Hosted

Since the advent of online platforms, which allow users to openly share content, the structure of the public sphere has been transformed. Until just a few decades ago, we were used to the fact that a significant part of public discourse would take place in publicly-owned and publicly-controlled spaces, be it town squares, parks, city halls, cultural establishments or public broadcasters. In the digital world, what we think of as public spaces are actually mostly private, for-profit, and/or data-guzzling platforms and services. The only very large online platform that is not-for-profit and is maintained by a thriving community of users is Wikipedia. This gives people on the internet agency and empowers them. We believe that the huge dominance of the for-profit, data driven model is a main reason for the greater vulnerability that our societies are experiencing in terms of polarisation, disinformation, and hate. We are confident that using versatile and diverse models of operation of online services and their underlying infrastructure will make society more resilient. It will make democratic, inclusive societies a harder target. For these reasons, we want a significant part of the online public discourse to take place on public or not-for-profit platforms, services, and infrastructure. To achieve the above objective, we suggest three areas of action. 1. Institutional Support Ensure funding for a network of publicly-owned and operated platforms that can host digital cultural heritage and public debates. Regardless of whether we are speaking of a regional museum, a small municipality, or public school, whenever these institutions and communities want to run a project online or share information, they rely on a few dominant, data-monetising services, even for the most basic action of hosting content. European digital hosting infrastructure for public service and cultural institutions is important for sovereignty and… Read More »Europe Needs Digital Public Spaces That Are Independently Moderated and Hosted

Ukraine: countering Disinformation in the wake of Russian invasion

For almost a year now, Russia has been waging a brutal all-out invasion of Ukraine. While the situation in Ukraine today isn’t easy, the most difficult period was the first four to six weeks of the invasion – when Ukraine’s capital was under assault, and many people across the world feared the country would fall to its larger enemy. But Ukraine withstood against the odds – and so did Ukrainian Wikipedia. How the Ukrainian community of Wikipedia volunteers remained resilient to challenges?

A crucial source of information

As Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February this year, millions of Ukrainians were desperately looking for information. People were trying to understand the war’s general context, but also looking up specific actionable information – from rules of crossing the border to recipes of a Molotov cocktail.

Along with news publishers and other sources of information, Wikipedia saw its popularity surge. In April, the Ukrainian-language edition of Wikipedia attracted 106,877,169 user views, its second highest month in history. The most popular article – about Russia’s invasion – raked in 3 million views in less than six months, an absolute record for UkWiki. (In case you were wondering, the Molotov cocktail article gained almost 140,000 views in February – twice as many as for the whole five years before).

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The truth is out there: 8 steps to tackle disinformation in the EU

In the context of dangers magnified by the spread of disinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic and the mixed results produced by the voluntary Code of Practice on Disinformation, the European Commission called for input from stakeholders on this topic. It is as much a fight for trustworthy knowledge, as it is against false online disinformation. This struggle is hardwired into the Wikimedia movement, starting with the very first Wikipedia entry.

Wikimedia community in search for truth

Unbalanced exposure of citizens to misleading or fabricated information is a major challenge for Europe and the world today. There is no technical or financial magic bullet: all actors in the digital and political ecosystem must work to implement concrete and coherent actions to improve access to trustworthy information sources and contain the spread of online disinformation. We need an array of cascading long-term policies and actions.

Wikimedia communities have always worked towards creating credible and reliable sources of information and have always sought to recognise and limit the spread of unreliable sources and non-factual information. Specific attention and community rules exist across the projects on estimating which sources are reliable and can be used on Wikipedia, for instance.

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