You can find pretty much anything on Wikipedia. The reason the internet encyclopedia is such a wealth of information is largely due to it being an open collaboration platform where anyone can contribute. However, in one rare instance, the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that runs Wikipedia, had to step in and remove content from the site.
A by Comparitech, a consumer tech website, compiled and analyzed transparency report data from Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft, and Wikimedia. For years now, as distrust in major tech companies has risen, these organizations have released transparency reports in an effort to be more open and honest with the public. These reports typically include information like user data requests and content takedowns from governments and copyright removals under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Comparitech discovered in its study that since Wikimedia started tracking this information in 2012, it has only granted a single non-DMCA content takedown request.
Mashable reached out to the Wikimedia Foundation to find out more about this request, which originated from Ukraine in 2014, and why it was granted.
According to Wikimedia, a blogger visiting Burma/Myanmar posted a redacted photo of his visa on his website. Somehow, a version of his visa picture without his personal information removed ended up on an English Wikipedia article concerning the country’s visa policy.
“He wrote to us, asking to remove the photo,” wrote Wikimedia. “Given the nature of the information and the circumstances of how it was exposed, we took the image down.”
“Generally speaking, the reason the Foundation gets relatively few takedown requests is because the volunteer editor community is effective at ensuring content meets the site’s standards — including those around licensing and sourcing,” a Wikimedia Foundation spokesperson told us.
Compared to the other major tech companies included in this report, it’s true that Wikimedia, by far, receives the least takedown requests. According to the study, since it began releasing its transparency report in 2013, Facebook has received more than 70,000 takedown requests from India alone. Russia has sent Google more than 61,000 takedown requests since 2009.
For comparison, the country that’s requested the most Wikipedia takedowns, the United States, has only 797 requests over the 6 years that Wikimedia has released its transparency reports.
However, requests from courts and governments to take down content from Wikipedia are rising. The Comparitech analysis reveals that in 2017, Wikimedia saw a 144 percent increase in takedown requests. In 2018, the organization received 880 content takedown requests, the most it’s received yet.