On Dec 6, 2022, at 8:28 AM, Wikimedia Trust and Safety
On December 6th 2022, the Foundation undertook 16 global bans to users who were engaging
in conflict of interest editing on Wikipedia projects in the MENA region. While we are
unable to discuss Foundation office actions in detail due to legal limitations and for the
safety of our communities, we would like to speak a little more to this situation as it
involves the safety and security of all of us.
As Wikimedia projects have risen in prominence across the world, it has attracted
increasing attention of those who would like to control the information published on it,
for political or other reasons. Community members have addressed concerns of this sort for
many years, but sometimes volunteers who intervene in such cases may themselves face
retaliation for their actions. The Foundation does its best to support volunteers in such
cases, in order to preserve their safety.
In January of 2022, the Foundation began an investigation into alleged conflict of
interest editing on Wikipedia projects in the MENA region. In that investigation, we were
able to confirm that a number of users with close connections with external parties were
editing the platform in a coordinated fashion to advance the aim of those parties. These
connections are a source of serious concern for the safety of our users that go beyond the
capacity of the local language project communities targeted to address. Due to the
gravity of this situation, and in order to keep our users and the projects safe, the
Foundation issued these 16 global bans.
Such actions can be distressing to those who know individuals involved and to those who
don’t. They can cause volunteers to mistrust each other and to mistrust the Foundation and
to be unsure if they can safely contribute. We are unable to share more details about this
situation due to the reasons mentioned above, but we want to assure you that the
Foundation will continue to explore various ways to keep everyone safe and free to
contribute to the projects. We want to thank those community members across the globe who
address such situations every day and encourage all of you to consider how to be safe in
your volunteer activities. We recognize that as we move forward, we will need to work with
our communities to find a global process to navigate safety challenges that allow such
situations to be dealt with as transparently as possible while also prioritising avoiding
risk to the safety of our users.
For anyone who feels unsafe on Wikimedia projects we encourage you to use the local
community processes or to contact us for assistance. The Foundation and the community will
work together, or in parallel, to enhance the safety of all users whenever necessary with
whatever means we can.
To contact the Trust & Safety team please email ca(a)wikimedia.or
WMF Office/Trust and Safety
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