The Wikimedia projects make up one of the world's largest repositories of human knowledge. With that much information, someone is bound to get upset by some of the content from time to time. While the vast majority of content disputes are resolved by users themselves, in some extreme cases the Wikimedia Foundation may receive a legal demand to override our users.
The Wikimedia projects are yours, not ours. People just like you from around the world write, upload, edit, and curate all of the content. Therefore, we believe users should decide what belongs on Wikimedia projects whenever legally possible.
Below, you will find more information about the number of requests we receive, where they come from, and how they could impact free knowledge. You can also learn more about how we fight for freedom of speech through our user assistance programs in the FAQ.
You can hide memories, but you can’t erase the history that produced them.
Story: Sometimes, public figures are upset that Wikipedia articles contain the most basic information: for example, their name. An author with a pen name; a famous comedian who performs pseudonymously; and a musical group that uses stage names—all contacted us earlier this year to have their names removed from Wikipedia articles. Decisions about what well-sourced information should be on the projects belong to the Wikimedia communities. We directed them to the editors of Galician, English, and French Wikipedia, who can evaluate the sources provided for these names and determine whether or not to remove them.
Time Period: April 2016
Story: We occasionally receive requests from governments to remove content that those governments may find offensive—even content that is perfectly legal elsewhere. In April, we received an email from the Information and Communication Technologies Authority of the Turkish government, claiming that the Turkish Wikipedia article on Müşfik diktatörlük (benevolent dictatorship) violated Turkish law. We rejected the request, and offered to pass the message on to Turkish Wikipedia volunteers. The projects belong to the contributors, readers, and other members of the Wikimedia communities, and we believe that where possible they should decide what content belongs on the projects.
Time Period: June 2016
Story: Occasionally, businesses will claim that Wikipedia articles about their products are unlawful—or, in this case, “illicit”. This happened in June, when an alcoholic beverage organization emailed us, arguing that an international treaty restricted English Wikipedia editors from referring to the organization’s region-specific alcoholic beverage by a generic name. We rejected the request and informed the organization that neither trademark law nor international treaties prevent Wikimedia communities from discussing that product or similar products. We also informed them that they were welcome to work with the volunteers to discuss the proper labeling of their favored drink.