Friday, March 16, 2012

Wikipedia Warning

Do your kids use the popular Wikipedia.org for school research projects? Parents should be advised that although the online encyclopedia is full of helpful information, it is not necessarily a safe site.

According to Foxnews.com, Wikipedia's image repository, Wikimedia Commons, is "littered" with pornographic images. These images can display even after searching relatively benign subjects. Although pornography and other graphic images are less common on the Wikipedia site, they are still easy to find.
"Dr. Marcella Wilson, a computer consultant, explained to FoxNews.com that the explicit content exists on Wikipedia because it is an open forum with user-generated content. She says legal pressure may be the only way to protect kids, since Wikipedia is funded by user and corporate donations."
These corporate donors include big names like Google, Microsoft and Facebook. In addition to legal pressure, Wikipedia could voluntarily apply a filter to its content, suggests a source in the article.

One reader of the article, reportedly an associate professor of industrial engineering at the University of Portugal, comments:
"The situation you reported on … is far from over. I'll dare say that it is getting worse by the day... Right now, Wikimedia Foundation projects like Wikipedia should be on the ‘blocked for children’ list in every household and school.”
This story underlines an important message to parents: be aware of what your children are doing online. Changes at Wikipedia cannot come too soon.

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