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23 Oct, 2023 11:27

Musk makes $1 billion name-change offer to Wikipedia

The owner of X (formerly Twitter) has accused the online encyclopedia of biased editing
Musk makes $1 billion name-change offer to Wikipedia

Elon Musk has offered to donate $1 billion to Wikipedia if the online encyclopedia renames itself ‘D*ckipedia’ for at least a year, while accusing the community-edited website of being biased.

Posting on his social media platform X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday, Musk claimed that “Wikipedia is inherently hierarchical and therefore subject to the biases of higher ranking editors, independent of their merits.”

The billionaire contrasted Wikipedia’s approach to that of the new Community Notes feature he introduced on X, arguing there was a “fundamental difference.”

The mechanism allows users to add clarifications to posts that many people find controversial, but requires consensus by “people with historically different points of view,” he stated.

“Crucially, even I, as the controlling shareholder of the company, cannot change the outcome of a Note,” Musk added.

The donation offer came in response to a fundraising message by Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales. Musk urged editors to add information about his pledge to “the [cow emoji, poop emoji] on my wiki page… in the interest of accuracy.”

The billionaire also claimed that the Wikimedia Foundation, the charity hosting Wikipedia servers, did not need significant funds to keep the service running. “You can literally fit a copy of the entire text on your phone!” Musk wrote.

X users soon added a community note to that post, writing that Wikipedia receives tens of billions of page views and tens of millions of page edits per month, and that the Wikimedia Foundation’s finances are regularly audited, according to media reports. The note has since disappeared.

Musk and Wales previously clashed over content moderation policies. In May, the Wikipedia co-founder criticized the X owner for allegedly bowing to Turkish pressure to censor speech on his platform in the run-up to a general election in the country.

“What Wikipedia did: we stood strong for our principles and fought to the Supreme Court of Turkey and won. This is what it means to treat freedom of expression as a principle rather than a slogan,” Wales insisted, responding to Musk’s explanation of the situation.

While Wikipedia touts itself as a neutral source of knowledge, critics accuse it of reneging on this core principle. Co-founder Larry Sanger denounced the encyclopedia in August as a place where US elites and spooks wage “information warfare” on the public.