Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2023-05-08/News and notes

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New legal "deVLOPments" in the EU: ... and at WP:Mastodon.
News and notes

New legal "deVLOPments" in the EU

European Commission designates Wikipedia a "Very Large Online Platform"

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The European Commission has designated the first set of "Very Large Online Platforms" and "Very Large Online Search Engines" under the Digital Services Act

The European Commission has designated Wikipedia a "Very Large Online Platform" (VLOP) under the Digital Services Act. The same designation, used for platforms that reach at least 45 million active users per month, has also been applied to Alibaba AliExpress, Amazon Store, Apple App Store,, Facebook, Google Play, Google Maps, Google Shopping, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube and Zalando.

The new designation means that Wikipedia will be required to comply with a set of new legal obligations. Some of these, related to targeted advertising and profiling, clearly don't apply to Wikipedia. However, the following may be relevant:

  • More user empowerment:
    • Users will be able to report illegal content easily and platforms have to process such reports diligently;
    • Platforms need to provide an easily understandable, plain-language summary of their terms and conditions, in the languages of the Member States where they operate.
  • Strong protection of minors:
    • Platforms will have to redesign their systems to ensure a high level of privacy, security, and safety of minors;
    • Special risk assessments including for negative effects on mental health will have to be provided to the Commission 4 months after designation and made public at the latest a year later.
  • More diligent content moderation, less disinformation:
    • Platforms and search engines need to take measures to address risks linked to the dissemination of illegal content online and to negative effects on freedom of expression and information;
    • Platforms need to have clear terms and conditions and enforce them diligently and non-arbitrarily;
    • Platforms need to have a mechanism for users to flag illegal content and act upon notifications expeditiously;
    • Platforms need to analyse their specific risks, and put in place mitigation measures – for instance, to address the spread of disinformation and inauthentic use of their service.
  • More transparency and accountability:
    • Platforms need to ensure that their risk assessments and their compliance with all the DSA obligations are externally and independently audited;
    • They will have to give access to publicly available data to researchers; later on, a special mechanism for vetted researchers will be established;
    • Platforms need to publish transparency reports on content moderation decisions and risk management.

In reaction to the Commission's announcement, the Wikimedia Foundation published a blog post titled "Wikipedia is now a Very Large Online Platform (VLOP) under new European Union rules: Here’s what that means for Wikimedians and readers". This describes some of the work on compliance that has been ongoing since last year and concludes:

While we think our movement is already doing a good job addressing the expectations of Wikipedia being a VLOP, compliance with the EU DSA is nonetheless a journey into uncharted territory that the Wikimedia movement cannot avoid taking.

Further context was also provided in a posting on the Public Policy mailing list by a WMF lead counsel, and in Wikimedia Europe's monthly EU Policy Monitoring report for April (both summarized here). – AK, H

Who speaks for Wikipedia? Mastodon accreditation reverted.

Checkmark on a verified Mastodon account

As reported in our previous issue, Wikipedia recently gained a presence on the federated social network Mastodon, in form of the account – without the Wikimedia Foundation's involvement, after various community suggestions had fallen flat that WMF should itself establish such an account alongside the official @wikipedia Twitter account that it operates.

In general, if your Mastodon profile links to a website, and the website links back to the same Mastodon account with a rel="me" attribute, then Mastodon will display that account profile to others with a "verified" checkmark on the website. For a period of time the community-controlled[a] account was linked in this way to, making it the verified Wikipedia account.

However, at the end of April, the change that had been made to the Wikipedia portal allowing to be verified was reverted for now by WMF.

What this means: Since un-verification, another Mastodon account could claim to represent Wikipedia, but it won't show up as verified.

Nevertheless, the Mastodon account remains active, helping this project to reach the Fediverse/Mastodon audience.

There's some uncertainty about when the Mastodon instance or other Mastodon instances will actually notice that the account has been unverified, but long-term the verification does depend on the portal. – B, M, H

  1. ^ not WMF-controlled

WMF proposes "an AI-assisted Wikipedia browsing experience"

Buried in the Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan (draft) for Product & Technology is this provocative proposal: "an AI-assisted Wikipedia browsing experience". See meta:Special:Diff/24865392B

Brief notes

A Wiki Loves Earth image from Benin