Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2019-06-30/In the media

The disinformation age: or is it the information error?

In the Information Age, disinformation is all around us: photos in our encyclopedia meant to sell clothing, a spy possibly editing Wikipedia, company names that mean nothing, citogenesis. Is Wikipedia part of the solution or part of the problem?

Information and disinformation

The North Face vandalizes Wikipedia

In May 2019 The Signpost reported that The North Face, a global chain clothing store, paid their marketers to replace Wikipedia's photos of parks, mountains and other nature sites with their advertisements. Media coverage of the scandal continues.

  • Of the dozens of articles covering the vandalism only Fast Company tells it exactly like it is: "This seemingly cheeky move is actually at the vanguard of a pernicious emerging movement that we’ll call asshole advertising."
  • The North Face’s Wikipedia Stunt Goes South by law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips states "The North Face’s manipulation of Wikipedia images is a form of native advertising and may be subject to the FTC’s advertising disclosure requirements."
  • Deseret News "If you want to market your product, don’t mess with Wikipedia to do it." We'd like to think so, but doesn't this kind of editing happen every day?
  • Engadget states that "moderators and the site itself may have to be more prepared for surreptitious plugs like this, even if they're unlikely to happen again in the near future." How unlikely is that?
  • Stephen Harrison on Slate gives a excellent summary of the hack itself, then focuses on a "highly meta" followup "a discussion taking place on Wikipedia about whether Wikipedia should include information within that subject’s Wikipedia article about how that subject covertly and unethically edited Wikipedia."
  • A History of Brands Hacking Wikipedia in AdAge mentions Burger King, SeaWorld and NBC News and links to Conflict-of-interest editing on Wikipedia.
  • PR Week quotes Francis Ingham, director general of the Public Relations and Communications Association, who packs so much right and so much wrong into so few sentences. "It is absolutely and always wrong for PR practitioners to break the PRCA Code of Conduct by posting fake pictures or fake facts on Wikipedia. Sadly, it is also the case that Wikipedia’s procedures are opaque, confusing, and often self-defeating. While the organisation is correct to ask that its customers abide by its rules, it is completely at fault for ensuring that those rules remain quite frankly so strange and so confusing. Wikipedia would be a more reliable source of factual information if it engaged more constructively with those offering to provide those facts." So who is completely at fault?
  • Outdoors emphasizes that TNF Brazil – a licensee, not a subsidiary – ran the program.
  • Travel Weekly quotes TNF Brazil's CEO Fabricio Luzzi's initial statement “Our mission is to expand our frontiers so that our consumers can overcome their limits. With the ‘Top of Images’ project, we achieved our positioning and placed our products in a fully contextualised manner as items that go hand in hand with these destinations.”

Adding and deleting women

External video
Exploring the gender gap in Wikipedia editors, 3:09, June 11, 2019, University of Washington
Rosiestep and FloNight appear in this video about UW research into the reasons for Wikipedia's gender gap. Rosiestep says "Amanda Menking and Wanda Pratt's work is important, so I was happy to participate in this project, and the follow-up video... I'd be interested in hearing feedback from members of the Wikimedia community as well as non-Wikimedians after they view the video."

In brief

For further coverage of Wikipedia in the news see List of articles about Wikipedia
Do you want to contribute to "In the media" by writing a story or even just an "in brief" item? Edit next week's edition in the Newsroom or leave a tip on the suggestions page.