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Friday, February 26, 2021

WHO and Wikipedia Join Forces to Stop COVID-19 Misinformation

The World Health Organization (WHO) has granted Wikipedia public access to its published information, videos, and graphics on the COVID-19 pandemic as an attempt to combat the spread of false information.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has granted Wikipedia public access to its published information, videos, and graphics on the COVID-19 pandemic as an attempt to combat the spread of false information.

Announced last October 22, the collaboration allows Wikipedia to repost and translate materials published by WHO into nearly 200 languages without seeking permission, as long as WHO is credited and the original link is provided.

“This puts WHO content right there in your language, in your town, in a way that relates to your geography,” WHO Digital Content Manager Andrew Pattison said, adding that receiving good content “quickly disarms the misinformation.”

The first WHO materials uploaded on Wikimedia Commons under the collaboration are “Mythbusters” infographics debunking false information on COVID-19.

According to Wikimedia Foundation Chief of Staff Ryan Merkley, Wikipedia has 5,200 articles related to COVID-19 in 174 languages and over 82,000 contributors have worked on them.

Merkley further said that several safeguard levels combat contributors who “make malicious changes,” including locking pages to prevent changes onto them until volunteer academics and doctors on WikiProject Covid-19 review it.

Merkley also said that over 1,100 volunteers will receive a notification alert when a page is changed, and changes made by an account that is less than 30 days old can be blocked if necessary.

Merkley said that if this collaboration works out, then there may be an expansion on countering misinformation on other diseases such as Ebola, polio, and HIV.

“Equitable access to trusted health information is critical to keeping people safe and informed,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

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