Responding to allegations from Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar of “deliberate efforts to incitement,” the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia, said cricketer Arshdeep Singh’s Wikipedia page had been corrected and secured, with only “trusted editors” now allowed to modify it.
While some reports stated that the government had issued a summons to Wikipedia officials, the Foundation said that none of its executives had been summoned. However, the Foundation has received an email from the IT Ministry enquiring about the incident. The Wikimedia Foundation said that it or Wikipedia do not currently have any office in India.
Indian cricketer Arshdeep Singh’s page on the Wikipedia platform was vandalised after he dropped a crucial catch during the Asia Cup India-Pakistan match in Dubai on Sunday. Pakistan went on to win the Super 4 match by five wickets. Arshdeep Singh faced massive trolling on social media after the match, and his Wikipedia page was edited to brand him as “Khalistani.”
In response, Mr. Chandrasekhar tweeted that, “No intermediary operating in India can permit this type of misinformation and deliberate efforts to incitement and #userharm - violates our govts expectation of Safe & Trusted Internet.”
Wikipedia depends on a large array of volunteer editors to generate and moderate its content, with over 60,000 of them in India. The Wikimedia Foundation said that the rules regarding content are set by these volunteers and that the organisation itself does not play any role in setting editorial policy.
“Vandalism does occur on Wikipedia from time to time, as can occur in any open, online platform. It is a violation of the trust and good faith of our editors and readers, and runs contrary to the values on which Wikipedia is based. The majority of vandalism on Wikipedia is reverted by bots or editors within minutes, as was done in this recent case,” the Foundation said in a statement.
In an earlier email interview to The Hindu, Wikimedia Foundation CEO Maryana Iskander had said that while Wikipedia was not immune to misinformation, “our commitment to verifiability and transparency has protected us from some of these recent trends.”
Ms. Iskander said that Wikipedia’s method of volunteer driven content moderation worked because “the site is radically transparent.” “Every decision on Wikipedia and every edit is visible on the article’s edit history or its talk page,” she said.
Wikipedia has also faced criticism over the years regarding the neutrality of its articles, particularly from right-wing organisations and media outlets which claim that the articles on the online “encyclopaedia” are biased to the Left. Responding to these claims, Ms. Iskander claimed that research has shown Wikipedia as “one of the only places on the internet where those who participate in the editing process become more neutral over time.”
The collaborative editing process “encourages people to consider other viewpoints, inherently leading to more neutral articles,” she said.