The Vergetells us: "A number of internet services – including ... the Wikimedia Foundation – filed briefs last week ... encouraging the [United States Supreme Court] not to narrow its definition of Section 230 [of the Communications Decency Act]." But – as pointed out by The Verge – it also comes at a time where the Supreme Court might curtail the Section 230 in the separate NetChoice lawsuits against new state laws in Texas and Florida to restrict online moderation that is defined by these states as viewpoint discrimination. An argument against these state laws is that they essentially compel speech by online hosts such as Wikimedia – what Eugene Volokh writing in Texas Law Review calls "compelled hosting" – which is likely a First Amendment violation. We don't know yet whether it is a violation, and this is what the Supreme Court case will sort out, maybe.
The Cornell Law Review has an analysis that states "requiring tech companies to maintain politically neutral content moderation algorithms is a form of compelled speech and is therefore presumptively unconstitutional under the First Amendment."
WMF's own amicus brief in Gonzalez references several Wikipedia articles, like Tiger Woods, and asks whether "the arrangement of content in a way that could (and sometimes does) highlight important controversies [is] now open season for litigation".
Osama Khalid (left) and Ziyad Alsufyani, the two Wikimedians jailed in 2020 for 32 and 8 years respectively
The story of the Wikimedia Foundation's ban of sixteen administrators and editors in the Middle-East/North Africa region and the two Saudi Wikimedians, Osama Khalid and Ziyad Alsufyani, who have been jailed in a Saudi Arabian maximum-security prison since 2020 (see previous Signpost coverage) has been attracting further press attention over the past two weeks.
"We are saddened and deeply concerned about these arrests and the harm they have caused to the freedom and safety of Osama Khalid and Ziad Al-Sufyani. The Foundation shares a common belief with Wikimedia volunteer communities around the world that access to knowledge is a human right."
The report included quotes from the recent Signpost coverage as well as a statement from Raed Jarrar, DAWN's Advocacy Director, who questioned Wikimedia's "business model" which he said had created "two classes of humans" – those paid to manage Wikimedia, and the volunteers who produce and edit Wikipedia's content for free:
"The biggest question here is about Wikimedia's model of relying on volunteers who are operating in authoritarian countries, and putting them in danger, and not advocating for their release when they are in trouble."
Pat de Brún, head of artificial intelligence and big data at rights group Amnesty International, commented on the political dimension driving government interest in Wikipedia:
"A huge amount is at stake. Knowledge is power, and the power to rewrite history and do propaganda is valuable for governments who have a lot to hide and have a shameful human rights record."
A few articles have been written around the web about the allegedly uncontroversial implementation of Vector 2022. Meanwhile, an RfC regarding the update, created on January 21, has a whopping million bytes of discussion on it. The main question – whether the WMF should roll back the new skin as the default – currently stands at 289 in support, 207 in opposition, and 17 neutral. Further down the page, a side RfC on unlimited text width has 79 in support and 57 in opposition.
Bloomberg reports that Pakistan has blocked Wikipedia
Mystery billionaire didn't have a Wikipedia page: Alex Gerko, a non-oligarch Russian-born algorithmic trader, paid more taxes (£487.4 million) than anybody else in the UK this year. The lack of a Wikipedia article surprised the Mirror, but the article was created within 10 hours. An article on Gerko's firm, XTX Markets, had been created in 2018.
The good, the bad, and the ugly: Poynter together with a PBS Newshour Student Reporting Project video teaches about the good – the solid foundations of Wikipedia's work; the bad – vandalism, the special markup language, and the difficulty of editing on a mobile device; and the ugly – hoaxes. It also gives some tips on using Wikipedia such as "explore the footnotes", and look for locks or tags at the top of the page. It gives a rating as well – "Mostly Legit". View the video here. The real good, bad and ugly are here.
Italian TV report: An episode of Italian TV series Report, which airs on the Rai 3 channel of Italy's national broadcaster, took an hour-long critical look at Wikimedia finances as well as paid editing and POV pushing on Wikipedia. Among the interviewees featured in the programme were Ethan Zuckerman, Wil540 art, Bluerasberry, Pete Forsyth and representatives of Wikimedia Italy. Rai also posted links to WMF responses to the programme makers' questions: 1, 2. These documents are bilingual, showing the original English questions and answers followed by an Italian translation.
Is everybody skeptical?: Paranormal Daily News is skeptical about how the paranormal is covered in this encyclopedia. They believe that a secret conspiracy is working to suppress the scientific presentation of the paranormal here.
Annie Rauwerda, again!: For the second time this month, Rauwerda's work on her Instagram account @depthsofwikipedia has been recognized by the press, this time on Bustle. For the second time this month, the article has featured a photo of my dog!– Sb
Pakistan state telecom "degrades", then blocks Wikipedia access due to sacrilegious content: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the state telecom regulator, threatened to block Wikipedia on 1 February, as reported by TechCrunch and Daily Times. Neither these two media sources nor the PTA English language press release mentioned what was the offending material, nor how the PTA notified "Wikipedia" of its order. Bloomberg then reported on 3 February that the PTA had indeed gone ahead and blocked Wikipedia. For a more comprehensive report and a WMF statement on this development, see News and notes in this issue of The Signpost.