Facebook donates $1 million to support Wikipedia

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Technology giants heavily rely on Wikipedia’s extensive database to source information for their platforms. So it is only fair that they show interest in the long-term sustainability of the online encyclopedia. This week, Facebook made its support official.

The Wikimedia Foundation announced late Thursday that Facebook has contributed $1 million to Wikimedia Endowment, a fund to financially support the online encyclopedia Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. “We are grateful to Facebook for this support, and hope this marks the beginning of a long-term collaboration to support Wikipedia’s future,” Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said in a statement.

Founded in 2016, Wikimedia Endowment is aimed at financially helping the work that goes on at various Wikimedia projects and ensuring that it remains an independent business. Its initial goal was to raise $100 million. To date, it has raised under $50 million. “Through its nearly 18 years of existence, Wikipedia has become a trusted resource for hundreds of millions of people around the world. The Endowment ensures we can protect this incredible resource for knowledge seekers today, but also for generations to come,” said Lisa Gruwell, Wikimedia’s Chief Advancement Officer. “We’re thrilled that Facebook is investing in the long-term future of Wikipedia and free knowledge for everyone.”

In recent months, Facebook introduced a new feature that uses Wikipedia’s database to give users more information about the source of an article in their News Feed. And of course, for years, Facebook has used Wikipedia to populate pages on its platform.

But tech companies have for years taken Wikipedia for granted. This was on display, as recently as in March, when YouTube announced that it would run a snippet of information sourced from Wikipedia under questionable videos on the platform in an attempt to fight the spread of false information. Not only did YouTube not offer any financial support to Wikipedia, it also did not give it a heads-up on what was touted as a partnership between the two.

In an opinion piece published in June on Wired, Wikimedia Foundation executive director Katherine Maher urged the companies to better support the service. “As companies draw on Wikipedia for knowledge – and as a bulwark against bad information – we believe they too have an opportunity to be generous,” she wrote. “At Wikimedia, we already love and deeply appreciate the millions of people around the world who make generous charitable contributions because they believe in our values. But we also believe that we deserve lasting, commensurate support from the organisations that derive significant and sustained financial value from our work.”

It looks like companies are finally beginning to listen. Amazon, which relies on Wikipedia for information it serves on its Echo smart speakers, announced in September that it was donating $1 million to the Endowment.

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