Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales says “a lot of thoughtful and serious people are fleeing Twitter” since Elon Musk takeover of platform
Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales has weighed into the controversial ownership of X (formerly Twitter) by Elon Musk.
Jimmy Wales was interviewed by CNBC at the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon, Portugal, where he was asked about Elon Musk’s war of words with Jimmy Wales.
In October this year Elon Musk had offered Wikipedia $1 billion if it changed its name to “Dickipedia.”
Jimmy Wales said Musk had a war of words with him, but he ignores Musk.
But when Wales was asked about what Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter means for the social media landscape, Wales responded on Tuesday: “It’s a huge problem.”
“I think a lot of people are fleeing Twitter, a lot of thoughtful and serious people are fleeing Twitter,” Wales told CNBC.
“Twitter was, and now I guess X sort of is, in a way, the default public square for the world. And if it’s being overrun by trolls and lunatics, it’s not good for any of us,” Wales added.
X did not respond to a request for comment when contacted by CNBC.
The bad blood between the two public figures stems to last year, when Musk alleged Wikipedia has “a non-trivial left-wing bias.” That was in response to Wikipedia editors debating whether to remove the platform’s entry on the Twitter Files.
These are a set of files Musk alleged had supported claims that the company’s prior management handled content moderation in a way that was biased against conservatives.
Wikipedia did not end up deleting the entry. Wikipedia of course relies on a community of volunteers to keep its content updated.
“I mean, he’s had a war of words with me, I just ignore him. So I didn’t really respond to that,” Wales told CNBC, referring to Musk’s $1 billion dollar offer for a name change.
“What he refers to as censorship, we refer to as thoughtful editorial judgement, which is a very different matter. So, you know, Elon will be Elon,” Wales reportedly said.
Under Musk, Twitter has been criticised for a looser content moderation regime, as the owner has called himself a “free speech absolutist”, despite the EU implementing new rules placing a stricter legal responsibility on large social media platforms to remove harmful content.
And Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales also revealed that it is trialling an alternative to X, called Trust Cafe.
In its mission statement, Trust Cafe said it was “created with the goal of fighting misinformation in the social media sphere.”
Wales described it as a “pilot project” with the aim of creating a “community of trustworthy people.”
Wales said he is trying to built a platform that has “content based on its trustworthiness rather than its viral likability.” It is not ad supported but rather based on voluntary membership.
“It’s got to be a really quality experience, something that they feel enhances their lives,” Wales said, explaining how he plans to get people to pay for the service.
Trust Cafe allows people to post X-style posts and others to comment. Users can search for posts by topic such as technology or world news.
“I don’t know if I’ve got the answers, but I’m trying,” Wales admitted to CNBC in relation to Trust Cafe.