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Wikipedia

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Facebook over the past year was the most popular article on Wikipedia, the most searched term in the U.S., and the most criticized social network in terms of privacy policy that involved its recently acquired photo-sharing service Instagram.

The world’s largest social networking company was so popular that German Archbishop Robert Zollitsch quipped if Jesus still lives today, he will join both Facebook and micro-blogging platform Twitter.

The past year was a socially good year for Facebook but its business side now reflects the opposite: Mark Zuckerberg’s brainchild continues to drop share prices since going public earlier this year, and criticisms over proposed updates to its privacy policies worsen Wall Street figures.

In another perspective, the changes imposed on its data use policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SRR) made Zuckerberg’s sister the latest victim of its hard to adopt privacy terms.

Facebook's Popularity And Privacy Policy During The Past Year
Image: Urs Steiner via Flickr (CC)

Most Viewed Articles on English Wikipedia 2012

Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia with over 20 million articles in 280 languages and the largest, widely used, compiled reference in the world, has published details about the most visited articles during the past year.

The digital library’s data, published by Swedish software engineer Johan Gunnarsson, revealed that Facebook perched atop the search list with almost 33 million views, followed by Wiki at second place with more than 29 million views at the time of this writing.

While unified searches account for most of these page visits, it still emphasized how far Facebook influenced the world this year – hardly surprising if we consider the hundreds of millions on its user base.

Most Searched Term in the U.S.

Another unsurprising figure is news about the term ‘Facebook’ as the most searched term within the U.S. in 2012.

Experian, a global information services group with operations in 41 countries, published a report saying that Facebook accounted for a telling 4.13 percent of searches in the U.S. over the past year for a 33 percent increase year-on-year.

Church Goes Social

Facebook and Twitter drew more followers in the millions, including those who at first were reluctant or passive of the social networking sites.

German newspaper Ruhr Nachrichten reported that local Archbishop Robert Zollitsch said in an interview that if only Jesus lived until today, he will join the horde of members on both websites.

Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th Pope of the Catholic Chuch, earlier this month joined and verified his Twitter account under the name @Pontifex, and Zollitsch said he will follow suit with a personal Twitter account.

The Pope’s first tweet read, “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.”

Instagram Fiasco

Not all of Facebook’s plans during the last year were as smooth as butter, including one that involved photo-sharing service Instagram.

Users went to several channels and lambasted the changes Instagram made after its announcement to sell users’ photos to advertising firms for sponsored content and promotions.

Days after the debacle, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom overturned changes applied on the service’s terms of service, but the site lost almost 25 percent of its users during the period and share prices dropped by 3 percent.

Facebook sealed its acquisition of Instagram on September under loose opposition from government agencies, which eventually gave the deal a green light.

Zuckerberg Private Family Picture Goes Online

Ever since its launch, Facebook has dealt with relentless questions over its privacy terms, and after the proposed changes to its privacy policy, the firm now needs to clarify where it stands.

Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of Facebook’s CEO and a former Facebook executive, apparently tried to avoid a privacy debate but failed to do so after a private family picture with her and Mark went online on the social network.

The unexpected, at least for Randi, happened when a friend of her sister (tagged) shared the photo on Twitter, to which Randi replied with a lecture on digital etiquette and human decency.

The photo, tweeted by Callie Schweitzer here, is now offline after Zuckerberg requested @cschweitz to remove it.

After the flip out, critics remarked that other users who experience the same issues will be redirected to Facebook’s privacy rules and reminded of their agreement to the guidelines.

Facebook will also remind users that they can keep accounts and photos private as long as they read through and understand the site’s security settings.

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Ever wondered what is the most popular article on Wikipedia is based on page views for 2012? Johan Gunnarsson has you covered.

According to data compiled and released by the Swedish software engineer, “Facebook” was the most visited page on English Wikipedia for the whole year.

In number two comes “Wiki” and number three is “Deaths in 2012”.

Fourth on the list is “One Direction” and completing the top five is “The Avengers (2012 film)”.

Number six is a page about the novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” followed by “2012 phenomenon”, the page for the predicted demise of the world last December 21.

The eight most visited page in English Wikipedia this year is “The Dark Knight Rises” followed by “Google” and “The Hunger Games”.

Meanwhile, Facebook is not just the most popular page for English Wikipedia but it also topped lists including Spanish Wikipedia and Indonesian Wikipedia, the data reveals. Facebook also figured on most lists.

Nonetheless, there is the possibility that people may have wanted to go to Facebook itself but otherwise got to the Wikipedia page of the social network rather than the social network itself.

Facebook, Wikipedia, popular, 2012

Image from Kalexanderson on Flickr (CC)

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Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia – the world’s largest free online encyclopedia, has charged UK government officials of engaging draconian programs to monitor cyberspace.

“It is not the sort of thing I’d expect from a western democracy. It is the kind of thing I would expect from the Iranians or the Chinese and it would be detected immediately by the internet industry,” said Wales in the long deliberations, where he participated and represented himself to discuss the UK government’s so-called plans to keep online communications data for law enforcement.

Nicholas Lansman, secretary general of the Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA), and Malcolm Hutty, head of public affairs at the London Internet Exchange (LINX), also attended.

While Lansman said cyberspace enforcement will have a large hit on the industry, Hutty admitted the need to store communications data, but explained the risk of encroaching data taken online.

“We understand that data is useful for legitimate law enforcement purposes… but, data is intrusive,” said Hutty.

He explained why LINX avoided passing judgment on the plans’ limit, but proposed the UK government carefully consider whether storing communications data is justifiable.

However, Wales delivered the most persuasive vindication of the attendees.

“We are talking about fundamental issues of human rights and privacy,” he said.

“Whatever we do, we should do it with the least possible impact on ordinary people who are not committing crimes.”

The most vehement opponent of the plans, Wales said if the UK government will charge internet service providers (ISPs) of monitoring the internet usage of Brits who read articles on Wikipedia, he will encrypt information on the website to bar it from those servers.

“If we find that UK ISPs are mandated to keep track of every single web page that you read at Wikipedia, I am almost certain we would immediately move to a default of encrypting all communication to the UK,” he challenged them.

Similar views rang all over the internet, and opposing parties quickly pointed out the absurdity and haughtiness of the UK government’s plans.

“Jimmy Wales’ description of the Communications Data Bill fits so much of what the UK is facing now, from the Digital Economy Act, opt-in Internet plans and an education system which is failing to keep pace with our European neighbours,” said Loz Kaye, leader of Pirate Party UK.

“But the snoopers’ charter is not just technologically illiterate, it’s socially illiterate. It turns us all from citizens into suspects. Far from keeping us safer, forcing ISPs to keep so much sensitive data puts us at new risk. All of this is to be done at taxpayers’ expense, the bill writes a blank check for surveillance costs. Instead we should be investing in the digital infrastructure that this country so badly needs.”

jimmy-wales-bombards-uks-communications-data-bill-will-encrypt-wikipedia

Image: Joi Ito via Flickr (CC)

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Wikipedia crashed worldwide on Monday, which left millions of online users in the dark why they could not access its website.

The online encyclopedia’s non-profit charitable organization, popularly known as Wikimedia, tweeted on its Twitter account that Wikipedia experienced technical problems and its engineering team worked hard to find a solution.

Wikipedia, the organization’s flagship project, posted a status update on its website that is experienced a major “disruption” on its online operations.

wikipedia-outage-hits-millions-of-users

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The Encyclopaedia Britannica, the iconic stalwart of world knowledge, has finally called it quits for its printed version. The information manuals, as they may have been but never referred to, adorned middle to upper class homes where families bought them to create a picture of prestige and learnedness.

However, Encyclopaedia Britannica has been in trouble for a long time now. The company thrived on monopolizing information, something the Internet can offer and do away with, and the decline has been epic. Only some 20 years ago, the company had revenues upwards of $650 million but was forced to declare bankruptcy some 6 short years later because of an ill-calculated move that saw the company decline an advance from Microsoft to include the encyclopedia in its Windows OS.

Encyclopaedia Britannica
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Photo credit: septuagesima)

The company declined and Microsoft went ahead to create and serve a lesser value Encarta. This was the deathblow dealt to Encyclopaedia Britannica because every family now could own both a cool computer and an encyclopaedia set in one. The results were devastating to the company.

Four years after filing for bankruptcy, Wikipedia happened and that was the end. This history shows that the move announced by the company was expected and in many ways long coming.

Many things could be said about what Encyclopaedia Britannica could have done right or better, but the bottom line is that we shall all miss those leather bound books that adorned our parent’s shelves, which were read no more than once a year.

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wikipedia-anti-sopa
Image via Wikipedia

Probably, all of us are aware that when we want something when we know that we cannot have it. At this desire must also add the advertising that participants at the anti-SOPA blackout have enjoyed and of this equation results an incredible increase in traffic.

During the day of the protest, Wikipedia was the UK the eighth most visited website, a pretty high position considering that everything posted was a black page with a message about Internet freedom.

According to pocket-lint.com, 5.8 million British have accessed the website and the Wikipedia Mobile version recorded an increase of over 1 million visitors.

Encyclopedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, said the protest was a success, posting on Twitter that 8 million Americans have sought Congress’ phone numbers and more than 162 million people have visited the protest page.

Wikipedia was not the only site that has enjoyed the attention of people during the protest day, Google officials saying that 4.5 million people signed the petition launched against SOPA.

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Microblogging website Twitter and other opponents of the hotly debated anti-piracy SOPA legislation won’t join the scheduled blackout on Wednesday, January 18th, by Wikepedia, Reddit, and other websites in protest of the bill.

 

SOPA, the Stop Internet Piracy Act, would make it illegal to stream unauthorized content but is being slammed by many major web players, and now the public, as undermining the way the web works and severely constraining free speech because of unclear language.  SOPA opponents say the bill would impose inappropriate and undefined censorship, require unreasonable demands from online businesses, and further, presents huge technological difficulties.

 

SOPA-blackout
SOPA Blackout Action Scheduled for Wednesday

Facebook, Google, Twitter and other major Internet companies wrote a joint letter to members of congress expressing their opposition to SOPA: “The bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of websites.”

 

 

The SOPA legislation has stalled in the House because of the public outcry over it and also because the White House has taken the lead in questioning its merits, criticizing it with respect to freedom of expression, and urging consensus.

 

On Thursday the Obama administration issued an official response to the SOPA issue: “While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risks, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global internet.”

 

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales expressed optimism about the effects the SOPA blackout will have, and urged others to participate.  “This is going to be wow. I hope Wikipedia will melt phone systems in Washington on Wednesday. Tell everyone you know!”  Other internet companies joining the SOPA blackout event on Wednesday include WordPress, Boing Boing, Minecraft, and Mozilla.

 

Some websites have not said whether they will participate in the SOPA blackout, like Craigslist, but have left no stone unturned in criticizing and expressing their disdain and contempt for the House’s anti-piracy bill. This from the about section for SOPA on Craigslist: “What could be more un-American than jack-booted thugs throttling our free speech, poisoning the greatest of American inventions, the Internet, while devastating perhaps our most successful and competitive industry? There’s got to be a better way to sell stereo cables.”

 

Twitter, Facebook, Google, and other companies have said they will not shut down their servers during the SOPA blackout.  PIPA (Protect IP Act),  is the Senate’s version of SOPA and is scheduled to be debated in the U.S. Senate on January 24th.

 

It appears all parties are at least making a show of compromise as the anti-piracy bills are being debated in the House and Senate.  U.S. Representative Lamar Smith (R-Tex) said he will have a provision regarding DNS blocking taken out of the act Senator Patrick Leahey (D-VT), who introduced PIPA in the Senate said he will do the same for PIPA. And, Representative Darrel Issa (R-California) said in a news release: “Majority leader (Eric Cantor R-Vir) has assured that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote.”

 

House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith said SOPA will be taken up again in February: “Due to the Republican and Democratic retreats taking place over the next two weeks, markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act is expected to resume in February.”

 

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English edition of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia on Wednesday will enter a 24-hour blackout as a protest measure against the anti-piracy draft law in the U.S.

According to a statement released by Wikimedia Foundation, quoted by Bloomberg, the movement is protesting against the law in general, but especially against Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Draft law is designed to combat illegal copying of movies and TV shows. If it passes, this law will harm the Internet and would definitely create new tools to censor international websites, according to the Wikimedia statement.

Wikipedia is currently available in 282 languages, containing over 20 million items added by a community of volunteer contributors worldwide – over 100,000 people.

What Does SOPA Involves

Wikipedia
via Flickr

Any website, even a giant like YouTube or Facebook, could be closed following a complaint by the authorities for hosting illegal content published by users.

In here would fit any video uploaded by community that includes song released by a label, any fragment of a movie or TV series, cartoons or television recordings.

Since there is already possible to block certain content that fits into the copyright regulations, the SOPA project is basically an attempt to control the content that appears over the Internet more rigorously.

Moreover, even search engines that provide links to pirated material could be closed without appeal, and social networks that are 100% based on user made ​​content, become extremely vulnerable.

Similar protests could follow from some websites like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo!

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Wikipedia-IndiaWikipedia, the San Francisco-based online encyclopedia company, has opened its first office outside US in New Delhi, India, report Bloomberg. The company aims to better reach India’s 1.2 billion people with the help of its new office.

Wikipedia was started about 10 years ago. It is free to use service and doesn’t display ads. Wikipedia Foundation Inc. operates the encyclopedia through fundraising. The annual budget for this free service is $20.4 million. Apart from English, the Wikipedia sites are also operated French, Japanese, German, Hebrew, Arabic, Esperanto and Russian.

The online encyclopedia has plans to strengthen its services over 20 local languages in India including Hindi. The company is also planning to expand its user base in the Middle East and North Africa in the near future.

“Our vision is for people to have an encyclopedia in their own language not their second language,” site’s co-founder Jimmy Wales said during an interview with Bloomberg. According to Wales, the company is not experiencing any financial crisis and is “very optimistic” about the next fundraiser. “We do need money but we have a very orderly plan for that,” added Wales.

Traffic to Wikipedia is constantly increasing. Around 420 million people visit the online encyclopedia every month, making it the fifth-most visited website.

“The readers are where the bulk of the income comes from,” said Wales. Two year ago, the number of visitors for the website were around 340 million.

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Apple-Threatens-Open-Web-Wikipedia-Founder
jdlasica / Flickr / (CC)

Marking the 10th anniversary of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, founder of the free encyclopedia, said that Apple threatens the openness of the internet.

Wales said in the 10th anniversary celebrations of Wikipedia, “The concern is that in order to make software and distribute it for free, you have to get permission from Apple so that chokepoint is very dangerous and something I’m concerned about. When you own a device and you want to give someone that software, you should not have to get permission from someone else and I think that is a very important thing.”

“People talk about net neutrality as an issue but the real action is in thinking about whether apps are a threat to the openness of the system,” he said.

Many have voiced criticism over the threat that the advancement of companies pose to the internet.

Authoring an article published in The Scientific American in 2010, internet founder Tim Berners-Lee said that dominance of a few big companies in the internet has caused the increasing formation of islands of walled-gardens.

Lee said that these companies, which included Apple, are threatening the openness of the internet which Berners-Lee said was built on egalitarian principles.

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