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.
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." - Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19
Story: People who contact the Wikimedia Foundation or experienced project volunteers to request changes to the Wikimedia projects are encouraged to provide evidence or cite reliable sources to support their views. In one recent case, a European performer asked that their birth date be changed in an article on French Wikipedia. However, there were two problems with the identification they provided as evidence: it was a primary and not a secondary source, and it appeared to be fake. In a later email, the requester indicated that it was actually a movie or television prop. The original information and sources remain in the article.
Story: We received two requests from lawyers representing clients awaiting trial, asking that we remove information from English Wikipedia that could allegedly impact the outcome of the cases. We explained that the user community would be unlikely to remove well-sourced information, but that they could discuss their concerns with experienced volunteers. Jury integrity is a serious issue, and countries balance the rights of the accused and the free expression rights of the public differently. We believe that the public’s right to access accurate information need not be so restricted. If a court is concerned about information available to jurors, a better remedy is careful instruction or sequestration.
Story: A photographer contacted us about removing from Wikimedia Commons a photograph of Donald Trump. They claimed the photograph was licensed only for the presidential transition team and U.S. government to use. However, the photo has been adopted by the White House for several official uses, and the whitehouse.gov copyright policy places the photo under a Creative Commons license. Due to the confusion about the copyright status of the photograph, experienced Commons volunteers decided to remove the image for now. We encourage governments everywhere to make official portraits and documents freely available to the public, and to be clear about their licensing policies.