Yesterday, YouTube announced that it would be partnering with Wikipedia to include context around videos. Most notably it would attempt to fight conspiracy theory videos with Wikipedia articles which would at least contain an agreed upon version of the facts.
This move was seen as an abdication of responsibility by Google, which had come under fire for surfacing incendiary content and conspiracy theories readily in YouTube by way of its algorithm.
If only its partnership with Wikipedia had actually been done in partnership with Wikipedia.
The Wikimedia foundation released a statement thanking YouTube, but ultimately expressing a few concerns about the “partnership”, most notably, that they had not been consulted about it. Much like finding out you’re the bride at a wedding and watching the priest beckon at you frantically, Wikipedia tiptoed around the awkwardness with a series of tweets (you can find it in the thread,)
— Wikimedia (@Wikimedia) March 14, 2018
The tweet tread highlighted comments from a Wikimedia executive Katherine Maher who stated, “And frankly, we don’t want you to blindly trust us. Sure, we’re mostly accurate – but not always! We want you to read
@Wikipedia with a critical eye. Check citations! Edit and correct inaccurate information! You can’t do that in a simple search result. We know that when more people read @Wikipedia critically, the better we get. (I’ve got citations!) The Wikipedia editors are often on the front lines of challenging conversations about truth and facts.”
A highlighted comment by a community member Phoebe Ayer was similarly critical of the move by Google, noting that “It’s not polite to treat Wikipedia like an endlessly renewable resource with infinite free labor; what’s the impact?”
Earier today, a tweet critical of the move described it as the Silicon Valley equivalent to thoughts and prayers, we can’t help but feel the same.