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This article was published on September 16, 2021

Why Wikimedia banned seven Chinese based editors for ‘infiltration’

It also reduced privileges of 12 more users

Why Wikimedia banned seven Chinese based editors for ‘infiltration’
Ivan Mehta
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Ivan Mehta

Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh." Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh."

Earlier this week, in an unprecedented step, Wikimedia Foundation, which oversees Wikipedia, banned seven editors based out of Mainland China over “infiltration concerns.” Plus, the non-profit revoked access of 12 editors from an “unrecognized group.”

The foundation investigated an unofficial group of 300 Wikipedia power users, known as Wikimedians of Mainland China (WMC). It found out that some of the group’s editors were taking unfair advantage of their privileges to  promote “the aims of China, as interpreted through whatever filters they may bring to bear.” 

Despite this accusation, Maggie Dennis, the vice president of the foundation, told BBC that she’s not in a position to “point fingers at the Chinese state.”

In the past, there have been also accusations of rigged elections that resulted in the selection of certain editors based out of China.

It’s notable that China blocked access to Wikipedia in the country in 2019. However, some of the users have stayed active by accessing the site through VPN services.

In July, Hong Kong Free Press reported about “editing wars” between editors based in Mainland China and Hong Kong to change the narrative of ongoing battles between countries. The story noted that China-based editors threatened to report a select Hong Kong editors to the city’s police.

Dennis said that these steps shouldn’t discourage other users from the international Chinese language community from joining the organization.

In response to these actions, Wikimedians of Mainland China alleged the foundation is acting against “feelings and opinions of the community”.

Between all this tussle it’s important for Wikipedia to keep an eye on pages containing sensitive information. As millions access the site thinking of it as the best source for details on a topic, it’s necessary that they get the most accurate and factual.

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