A few days ago Wikipedia announced intention to remove its entry on SouthFront (more here), explaining an issue by the pro-Russian position of the project and, by way of issuing an official reason, that the information about the project mostly cites the SouthFront site.
Wikipedia’s entry on SouthFront on February 26, 2017
In this respect, the SouthFront wants to openly state the following.
1. The SF team is independent, as it is not financed by anyone other than its audience. This gives the project the ability to promote its own views.
We also want to draw Wikipedia editors’ attention to the obvious fact that, even if the project were to be receiving money directly from the hands of Vladimir Putin himself, that would still require some proof rather than mere assertions. Particularly since the rather significant act of removing project information is being pursued on the basis of such assertions.
2. Participants in the project have never denied their sympathies toward some steps of current foreign policies of the Russian Federation. It would be interesting what kind of independence Wikipedia itself can lay a claim to, if a point of view is being de-facto declared as unacceptable simply because it doesn’t comport to the MSM agenda or exhibits supposed “pro-Russian” bent.
The original version of Wikipedia’s entry on SouthFront:
3. It has been claimed that all the links in the Wiki entry lead to SF site itself. That’s perfectly sensible, since the entry describes a fairly popular project and its complex relations with several other Internet platforms. The decision also implies that entries on CNN, Euronews, RT, Russia Insider, Belingcat, Voice of Russia, Kavkaz Center, and Ukraine Today and several other contemporary information activities ought to be removed. Which, incidentally, poses the following question: why the desire to suppress and conceal information about SouthFront? We’re not talking about a blog with maybe 3 entries a week, but rather an example of how new media formats function. If SF is not a new phenomenon or an irritant, why did this problem arise in the first place? Here are a few other examples of how significant information projects are described on Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia_Insider; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Masdar_News, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bellingcat, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voice_of_Russia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moscow_Times
How is this different from the SF entry? What is more, many of Wikipedia entries cite SF articles:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zunqul, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qirq_Maghar, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Zahraa, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nubl, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murak,_Syria, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_Armed_Forces_casualties_in_Syria, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yasen-class_submarine, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar-class_submarine, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmyra_offensive_(May_2015), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_Democratic_Forces, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mil_Mi-28, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poland, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopard_2, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Russian_Sukhoi_Su-24_shootdown, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_M1_Abrams
Does this mean that Wikipedia is using double standards: editors acknowledge SF information invaluable, but want to censor the information on the project itself? Or did Wikipedia editors simply encounter aggressive information policies aimed at the SF which they couldn’t or didn’t want to resist?
4. Wikipedia ought to be an independent base of information, a platform that makes available information about significant facts or events that have occurred or are occurring in the world. One of the instruments determining the format of the 21st Century informational environment. Ensuring access to information, but not becoming yet another tool of censorship.
SF has been in existence for almost 3 years already. Over that period, the project evolved through a number of phases, depending on the circumstances. As of today, SF has tens of thousands of readers and viewers, which means it has a presence. Politicized efforts to limit project information by Wikipedia hurt not so much our project but rather the idea of free access to knowledge from various points of view.
5. The project is being accused of not releasing the personal information of its participants, volunteers, etc. Naturally, given that people are being persecuted for their views, for example in Germany, the US, Ukraine, Russia, it’s understandable why a project that offers an alternative point of view would adopt a position of not revealing the identity of its members. Otherwise should this Wikipedia entry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_(group) also be removed?
6. From the very beginning, the project’s fundamental idea rested on allowing everyone to express their point of view and thus jointly create interesting content that provokes thoughts, rather than hundreds of millions of dollars from sponsors. Perhaps that’s the very cause of the problem. Could it be someone is truly worried something like that is possible in the contemporary informational environment?
SF team, its volunteers, friends, and partners, as well as the readers and viewers, demand that Wikipedia materials on the project be restored.
We also ask the editors to pay particular attention toward efforts to use Wikipedia as an instrument of information aggression.
Everyone concerned about the controversy surrounding SF is requested to write Wikipedia (firstname.lastname@example.org) and make this statement as widely available as possible.