5 DECEMBER 2023 — The Wikimedia Foundation is deeply concerned about ongoing internet shutdowns in the Gaza Strip, which directly interfere with people’s ability to receive and share information from Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. As the nonprofit that hosts Wikimedia projects, the Foundation believes these shutdowns threaten our mission to share knowledge globally and protect access to knowledge as a human right.
Since 7 October 2023, the Wikimedia Foundation has been closely monitoring the current Israel-Palestine Crisis. Our priority throughout has been supporting the safety of Foundation staff and Wikimedia volunteers in the region. Our efforts have also focused on ensuring that everyone has access to the reliable, balanced information available on Wikipedia, which is even more critical in times of conflict.
Yesterday, the internet service provider from which Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects see the most traffic in Gaza — Paltel, Palestine Telecommunications Company — again experienced a disconnection in parts of Gaza. Our internal reports also show traffic to Wikipedia decreased. While internet services related to the latest disruption are being restored, traffic to Wikimedia sites from Gaza has declined 75% overall since October. Other reports have confirmed widespread disruptions to communication and internet systems within Gaza related to military strikes, as well as complete shutdowns, resulting from damage to communications infrastructure, power cuts, and fuel restrictions.
The Wikimedia Foundation advocates for unrestricted access to the internet through our memberships in the Global Network Initiative; Access Now’s #KeepItOn Coalition; and the Freedom Online Coalition — organizations and allies that share our commitment to protecting free and open knowledge online.
Since October, Wikipedia’s articles related to the conflict have received millions of pageviews; the main article about the war is available in 75 languages, and more than 1,000 volunteer editors have contributed to the article. Wikipedia’s policies require that information be presented “fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without editorial bias,” fulfilling an important role in fostering understanding in times of division. Articles on Wikipedia are built through a collaborative model that relies on individuals contributing and updating content based on reliable sources.
Without access to the internet, people are deprived of life-saving information that is essential for making informed decisions. Internet shutdowns prevent the flow of information in and out of Gaza, interfering with news reporting that Wikipedia’s volunteer editors rely upon to provide up-to-date information about the crisis. This, coupled with the destruction and disruption to educational institutions, creates barriers to more equitable coverage of the crisis, and directly impedes the Foundation’s objectives to ensure everyone can participate in knowledge creation.
Wikipedia serves as an indispensable knowledge resource to billions worldwide, particularly during situations of crisis. In these moments when access to information is cut or restricted, our mission comes under threat. We call for an end to actions that prevent internet access and the spread of free knowledge.
About the Wikimedia Foundation
The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia and other Wikimedia free knowledge projects. Our vision is a world in which every single human can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. We believe that everyone has the potential to contribute something to our shared knowledge and that everyone should be able to access that knowledge freely. We host Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects; build software experiences for reading, contributing, and sharing Wikimedia content; support the volunteer communities and partners who make Wikimedia possible. The Wikimedia Foundation is a United States 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization with offices in San Francisco, California, USA.
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