Google is donating over $3 million to Wikipedia parent company Wikimedia as part of a new partnership between the two companies, despite several controversies in 2018 surrounding misinformation in Google search results taken from Wikipedia.
In a statement, The Wikimedia Foundation announced its partnership “with Google on a set of initiatives to support a shared commitment of making information more accessible to more people around the world.”
“Through these partnerships, we’ll be working together to create new and expanded programs to empower editors to create local language content on Wikipedia, as well as developing improved translation tools,” Wikimedia announced. “To strengthen and support Wikipedia and its mission for generations to come, Google.org will also be contributing $1.1 million to the Wikimedia Foundation and $2 million to the Wikimedia Endowment.”
Google executive Ben Gomes also declared, “Our organizations have partnered throughout the years on initiatives that further our joint goals around knowledge access, including making information available through Google Search. Many individual Googlers also show their support for Wikimedia, through donations and from active participation in the community. We look forward to continuing our close partnership with new initiatives and commitments to achieving our shared goals.”
In 2018, Google was embroiled in several controversies surrounding false and damaging information from Wikipedia published by Google in its search results.
In May, using information from Wikipedia, Google listed “Nazism” as an official ideology of the Californian Republican Party, before apologizing and blaming the mishap on Wikipedia’s unreliable information, which Google prioritizes in search results and displays in its own special info box.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called the incident “disturbing,” and “a disgrace.”
In August, Google also faced controversy for returning an image of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the top result for searches of “leader of the free world,” again based on information from Wikipedia.
During a hearing on social media censorship in July, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) criticized Google for relying on often-inaccurate information from Wikipedia.
“In the case of Wikipedia, currently, Google is using Wikipedia … scraping the information, and essentially using it almost as its own content, meaning you’re providing not a link to this site, but you’re in fact putting their information out as your information,” Issa explained. “Since Wikipedia is an external, fairly broad in many cases, list of people, sometimes with political biases that will deliberately distort or do bad things to a site… how are we to hold you accountable, when instead of being a search source you are in fact scraping the information?”
“When you absorb the content, aren’t you absorbing the responsibility? And in the case of Wikipedia, clearly you are not scrubbing the content,” he continued. “Shouldn’t we hold you responsible at least to the level of care that newspapers — ever so poorly — are held to?”
As reported in June, “Wikipedia has previously buried controversies surrounding CNN, downplayed Antifa violence, and removed the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting from a list of ‘Islamist Terrorist Attacks.'”