Led by its business model, Twitter and Facebook misinformation managed « badly » during the presidency of Donald trumpsays the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, in an interview with . on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the free online encyclopedia.
Interviewed in the United Kingdom, where he resides and obtained nationality in 2019, the American criticized the attitude of these two giants of social networks.
▶ ️Goodbye to your filters, Snapchat also suspends Trump account
In his opinion, the responsibility for the January 6 attack on the Capitol lies « 100% » with the controversial president of the United States, but Twitter and Facebook « had a hard time dealing with disinformation. »
« Regarding Donald Trump, they did a bad job for a long, long time, » says Wales, as the president « clearly spread disinformation. »
After the attack in Washington, the two networks indefinitely suspended the accounts of the Republican billionaire, who used them to transmit accusations to tens of millions of people without evidence of electoral fraud.
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Wikipedia is not perfect
Twenty years after its creation, Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world, consulted more than 15 billion times a month.
Some 55 million articles appear on this participatory platform in more than 300 languages.
It is also, as Wales originally thought, « a world in which every inhabitant of the planet has free access to the sum of all human knowledge. »
The 2003 Wikipedia founder’s decision to make it a nonprofit is one of the reasons he believes the online encyclopedia did not face the same tough decisions and negative responses as Twitter and Facebook.
▶ ️Google hits another blow against Trump and suspends his YouTube channel
« They have a business model that says, ‘We need as many page views as possible,’ » he says. « And that also hurts their brand, so they have to fix it, but I think it’s going to cost them. »
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, closely associated with cultural conflicts in the United States and the spread of misinformation around the world, Wikipedia is considered one of the last and best examples of utopia at the origins of the internet.
However, in the early 2000s it was the lies and aggressiveness of Wikipedia users that sparked debates about digital regulation.
« I always say that we have never been as bad as people said or as good as people think, » says Wales. “We know that Wikipedia is not perfect. We still have a lot of work to do.
« Really horrible opinions »
Wales argues that Wikipedia is fundamentally different from social media.
« We have a very clear mission: to create an encyclopedia », he affirms and assures that this postulate is « very different from a social network that says, ‘publish what you think, publish your opinions’, because the truth is that many people really have opinions horrible ”.
▶ ️Twitter got tired of Trump and locks his account permanently
The American believes that Wikipedia still has challenges to overcome, including the issue of the diversity of the thousands of « Wikipedians », the name given to editors and web administrators.
In 2021, the online encyclopedia will implement a code of conduct with sanctions against insults and harassment, which in the past have been directed at minorities.
Its development « has taken longer than it should have, » admits Wales, but explains that his community is so large « that it takes a long time to figure things out and get buy-in. »
His ambition for the next 20 years is quite similar to that of the first 20. In 2006, Wales set a goal of 100,000 Wikipedia entries for each language with more than a million speakers. « It will take us at least another 20 years to get there, » he warns.
But he hopes to have created an institution that can last as long as the British University of Oxford, which is more than 900 years old. « We are really focusing our efforts on how to build an institution that can last, » he says.