Tech media took note of the release the same day of a new Androidmobile app. A version for iOS will follow. A Wikimedia Foundation blog post called it "A more immersive mobile experience". VentureBeatnoted that "the focus of the refresh is firmly on imagery", with the lead photo dominating the app's presentation of the article and the app allowing the user to easily enlarge photos and swipe through a slideshow of all the article's images. They wrote that these features gave the app "a little more visual zing". TechCrunchreported that "the search experience now features a more defined, higher-contrast search bar alongside a list of recently searched topics" and noted the "Read More" feature which offers three related pages at the end of each article.
Also the same day, the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation announced it was awarding the prestigious 2015 Erasmus Prize to Wikipedia. In a press release, they said it chose the Wikipedia community for the award because "it has promoted the dissemination of knowledge through a comprehensive and universally accessible encyclopaedia." The Wikimedia Foundation responded to the news in a press release and a blog post. English language media has not taken notice of the award as of press time, but Jimmy Wales was personally on hand in the Netherlands for the announcement and appeared on the Dutch television show RTL Late Night on RTL 4, along with Wikipedia editors Spinster and Effeietsanders. See the full story of the award in our "News and notes" section this week.
Wikipedia helps spread rumors of Fidel Castro's death
Fusionreported (January 9) on the wild spread of rumors on January 8 and 9 about the alleged death of 88-year-old longtime Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, who has not been seen in public since January 2014. The rumors spread on social media, especially Twitter, though some media outlets, like Diario Las Américas and De Telegraafwerereporting on the rumors and claimed that the Cuban government would be holding a press conference about the matter. This was a claim that left many journalists who hadn't heard about a press conference scratching their heads. The Associated Pressnoted (January 10) that one publication, Corriere della Sera, even reported the rumor as fact before quickly removing the story from their website.
The Cuban government officially denied the rumors and the existence of a press conference to Agence France-Presse. Univision anchor Jorge Ramoswarned on Twitter about the prevalence of false rumors regarding Castro's death, especially in the community of Cuban-American exiles in south Florida. "Careful. Remember that here in Miami, almost like a ritual, Fidel Castro is killed several times every year." Many news outlets are speculating the source of the rumor was the January 4 death of Fidel Castro Odinga, son of former Prime Minister of KenyaRaila Odinga.
On Wikipedia, three different editors edited Fidel Castro's article to report the death as factual. One of them cited the De Telegraaf article and even submitted Castro's death as a potential story for the In the news section of the front page of the encyclopedia. Aside from Fusion, these edits attracted little attention in the English language press, but numerous Spanish language media outlets reported on Wikipedia's role, including stories in BBC Mundo, Perú.21, El Heraldo, and Página Siete.
Checking in with Whitehall's Resident Wikipedian: BBC News reports (January 14) on the anonymous UK civil servant (or servants) who has been diligently editing Wikipedia articles on Scottish football from work.
Corrupting Wikipedia: In a discussion (January 12) of "pernicious corruption" in the US government in the Washington Post, Professor Janine R. Wedel writes of public relations firms: "One firm employs 'all sorts of dark arts' (their words) on the Internet: editing Wikipedia entries deemed damaging; setting up third-party blogs that also appear independent; and gaming search results to ensure that positive content outweighs negative content. Such efforts sway public perception and mold policy yet are virtually invisible even to a trained observer."
Crazy Popes: Adweekinterviewed (January 6) Archer creator Adam Reed, who said he relies on Wikipedia for each episode. "I would be lost without it. I will go look for like, I don't know, like what type of pistol would this guy be carrying, and then an hour later I'm like, 'Man, this Pope Pius IV was crazy!' And then the afternoon is gone."