Row over Pornographic Images on Wikimedia

By Dipankar Das, Gaea News Network
Monday, May 10, 2010

wiki The dispute over sexually explicit content escalated on the web for Wikimedia sites. Co-founder Jimmy Wales surrendered some of his privileges because other contributors protested that he deleted some of the images without prior consultation. In early April, the another co-founder, Larry Sanger, alleged to the FBI  that the organisation was “knowingly distributing child pornography”. He explained afterward that he is not concerned about photographs of children, but “obscene visual representations of the abuse of children”.

Last week, administrators of Wikimedia Commons, a media file store mainly used for Wikipedia articles, removed several images. According to Wikipedia community, some of the images have academic values. That’s why they were reinstated later on. Mr Wales  earlier supported the idea of the removal of “images that are of little or no educational value but which appeal solely to prurient interests”.

There was huge pressure after Fox News reported the story. It asked whether the donors were aware of “the extent of sexually explicit content” on Wikimedia Commons, a media file store used for Wikipedia articles. It is not evident whether Mr Wale’s action is due to the indirect pressure from Fox News. But Michael Peel, Chair of Wikimedia UK, told BBC News that despite the recent row about explicit materials, the core issue is that “whether content is educational”.

Mr Wales faced widespread criticism from the volunteer of Wikipedia. They think that it is undemocratic on his behalf to delete content arbitrarily. They are also concerned that valid materials may be deleted accidentally in this way. In response to the growing argument, Mr Wales revoked deliberately some of the permission to delete and edit “protected” content on Wikimedia Commons.

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