Wikipedia suffered from an intrusion that sought to advance China's goals, the American non-profit organization that owns the volunteer-edited encyclopedia said. The Wikimedia Foundation said the hack threatened the very foundations of Wikipedia. As a result, the foundation banned seven editors linked to a Chinese group. Chinese Wikimedians accused the foundation of baseless slander against a small group of people.
Foundation Vice President Maggie Dennis said in a note to volunteers, that this case is unprecedented in scope. The foundation had been investigating the hacking of Chinese-language Wikipedia for nearly a year. But this summer's credible threats to volunteer safety have prioritized rapid response.
Denise writes that the establishment has been fighting against a takeover, in which a group controls the editing of Wikipedia in favor of a particular point of view. It recently formed a disinformation team. In this case, hackers tried to promote China's goals, and content control was a target.
Denise said, I am not in a position to point a finger at the Chinese state and I do not have information that would motivate me to do so.
Wikipedia said its long and in-depth investigations into the Chinese Wikimedians, a group that claims to have about 300 members, resulted in the ban of seven users and the removal of administrator privileges from 12 others. There was concern that elections for powerful administrative positions could be tampered with, and that the liberalization process risked being overwhelmed. He also asked other editors to modify their behavior. In a post in response to the ban, Chinese Wikimedians accused the organization of acting contrary to the feelings and opinions of the community.
But Denise said the foundation acted in awareness of the conflict between Chinese Wikimedians and volunteers in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Free Press reported in July of battles between rival editors over articles describing political events. The situation worsened after the closure of Hong Kong's Apple Daily and the arrest of its top officials.
Wikipedia content control
The Hong Kong Free Press claimed that China's editors were increasingly pushing to use Chinese state media as reliable news sources for encyclopedia articles. They revealed that some discussed reporting Hong Kong editors to the city's National Security Police in online chat groups.
Hong Kong Free Press correspondent Celina Cheng said some members of the Hong Kong Wikipedia community are now afraid to comment on politically sensitive articles. Hong Kong users fear they may be targeted as a result of revealing their identities. They asked the Trust and Safety team at the Wikimedia Foundation for their help.
Weeks earlier, the Foundation, in response to a security alert, restricted access to personally identifiable information in two jurisdictions where access to Wikipedia has been blocked, including China.
They feared that volunteers would be exploited or forced to share personal data by government agencies or others with an interest in information bias.
Denise said the program showed that the foundation's actions had worked and no data had been misused. But the latter measure was necessary because individuals inadvertently put themselves at risk by sharing information about themselves, such as attending local meetings or sharing personal email addresses with other users. When the organization has reliable information some volunteers may not interact in good faith. We feel it is necessary to protect the community by denying these individuals access. In such cases, users are banned.
The foundation said it was keen that none of the steps taken to protect the encyclopedia discourage Chinese speakers from joining the community of volunteers in China who worked for free and open knowledge.