“Don’t Blink”: Protecting the Wikimedia model, its people, and its values in January 2024

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An image collage that features: a photograph of a child sitting in front of a computer in a library; a slide from a deck that reads "Learning Clinic: Reform + Advocacy with Wikimedia Colombia and Wikimedia Italia"; the cover of a Child Rights Impact Assessment report; a slide from a deck with the logo of the "Let's Connect" project; and, a photograph of several computer screens in a classroom.
Image collage for the January 2024 issue of ‘Don’t Blink.’ Image by the Wikimedia Foundation, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Welcome to “Don’t Blink”! Every month we share developments from around the world that shape people’s ability to participate in the free knowledge movement. In case you blinked last month, here are the most important public policy advocacy topics that have kept the Wikimedia Foundation busy.

The Global Advocacy team works to advocate laws and government policies that protect the volunteer community-led Wikimedia model, Wikimedia’s people, and the Wikimedia movement’s core values. To learn more about us and the work we do with the rest of the Foundation, visit our Meta-Wiki webpage, follow us on X (formerly Twitter) (@WikimediaPolicy), and sign up to our Wikimedia public policy mailing list or quarterly newsletter


Protecting Wikimedia’s values
(Work related to human rights and countering disinformation

Wikimedia Foundation publishes first Child Rights Impact Assessment and Combating Online Child Exploitation policy
[Read the our blog posts on the
impact assessment and the child protection policy]

The Wikimedia Foundation is committed to protecting human rights on the Wikimedia projects, which includes ensuring privacy and data minimization for readers and volunteers. This commitment extends to understanding the benefits and risks of children participating in the projects, which is why we commissioned an independent report: our first Child Rights Impact Assessment.

The report took into consideration interviews with multiple stakeholders  within and external to the Wikimedia movement (among them people who participated on the projects as minors), and highlighted that Wikimedia projects advance and support the rights of every child, everywhere, to education and knowledge, among others. It affirmed that children—and society at large—can benefit significantly from accessing and contributing to the projects. It also provided recommendations on what the Foundation as well as volunteer communities can do, together and independently, to ensure safe participation of youth on the projects.

For the same purpose, the Foundation also established a policy that reflects everything we and our colleagues across the Legal department have learned about how to combat the exploitation of minors on the projects. The Combating Online Child Exploitation policy was published alongside an informational webpage for younger volunteers, while also providing a dedicated channel with clear information about how to report potential exploitation to the Foundation.

For more details, read the blog posts explaining the impact assessment and the new policy.

In addition, if you or anyone you know in your community is working to empower or protect young people on Wikimedia projects, we would love to hear about it! We are interested in learning how you are working with youth, what topics you are covering, where this work is happening, and with what age groups you are working. Please send us any information about this work, including useful links, to youthsurvey@wikimedia.org, and join us at our upcoming community conversation hours on 23 February, 2024! We will work to provide live interpretation for languages that receive at least five volunteer requests.

Participating in a US White House listening session with the Kids Online Health and Safety (KOHS) Task Force
[Watch the live streamed public comments from the listening session]

On 31 January—the same day that the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) from five major technology companies testified before the US Senate Judiciary Committee on their actions to protect children from sexual exploitation online—the US White House held a listening session with their Interagency Task Force on Kids Online Health & Safety (KOHS). Rebecca MacKinnon, our Vice President of Global Advocacy, participated alongside experts from US nonprofits and academia in the listening session to address the relationship between minors and online platforms. 

The US Surgeon General and others expressed the urgent need to address and act on the impact that social media platforms are having on childrens’ mental health. Members of the expert panel, speaking candidly under the Chatham House Rule, offered perspectives from research, fieldwork, and lived experience that painted a much more complex picture than had been presented earlier that day at the Senate hearing. In short: Figuring out how to craft policies and regulations that actually address threats to childrens is a significant and complex challenge, especially given that there is not even consensus about how to define the problem. Some academic researchers warned that hasty action could be counterproductive. Youth rights activists spoke to the problem of online addiction, while others warned against legislation that fails to empower young people and treats them only as victims. One young person called on lawmakers and the US administration to treat youth as people capable of proposing and driving solutions.

In her remarks to the Task Force, Rebecca shared findings from the Foundation’s child rights impact assessment, noting that online platforms—commercial or non-commercial—have an important responsibility to be honest about risks as well as opportunities and benefits for youth who interact with their platforms. She also suggested that it is crucial for policymakers to have a positive vision of what kind of internet platforms would empower young people and enable them to exercise their rights. Doing so better informs decisions about how policies can help platforms empower and benefit youth as well as create safer environments. In addition, it is important for policymakers and regulators to remember that social media platforms are not the only type of internet platform. They need to consider how regulation will affect—and how it can protect—non-commercial, public interest, community-led platforms like Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects.

We need an internet where young people not only can read and edit Wikipedia, Rebecca explained, but can also even build and govern new online platforms that enable them to exercise their rights.

If you are interested in learning more about the listening session, you can watch the live streamed public comments by White House and Biden administration officials here.

Protecting Wikimedia’s people
(Work related to privacy and countering surveillance)

Speaking at the “Beyond Disinformation: Strengthening our Societies against Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference (FIMI)” conference

On 23 January, Costanza Sciubba Caniglia, our Anti-Disinformation Strategy Lead, spoke at the first day of the “Beyond Disinformation: Strengthening our Societies against Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference (FIMI)” conference, organized by the European External Action Service. Foreign information manipulation and interference (FIMI) has become a pressing challenge for the European Union (EU) and its partners. This year, 2024, will be a critical one for global democracy, when more voters than ever in history are eligible to participate in elections. European Parliament elections will also be held in June. Stakeholders worldwide will need to demonstrate their continued resolve to address the threat of FIMI.

For these reasons, the event brought together stakeholders from EU institutions, partner governments and international organizations, as well as civil society and private sector partners. The different sessions focused on various topics, and were held under the Chatham House Rule. Costanza spoke on a panel with representatives from TikTok and Logically, which was moderated by the European External Action Services. She explained to those attending how the European Commission has designated Wikipedia with the Very Large Online Platform (VLOP) status under the EU Digital Service Act (DSA), how the community-led Wikimedia model works, and how the Foundation and Wikimedians throughout the world counter disinformation, particularly during elections, and offer reliable and accurate information online in the public interest.

Protecting the Wikimedia model
(Work related to access to knowledge and freedom of expression)

Wikimedia Colombia and Wikimedia Italia conduct Let’s Connect workshop on copyright reform advocacy
[Learn from the workshop recording and slide deck]

On 30 January, Wikimedia Colombia and Wikimedia Italia conducted a workshop on copyright reform advocacy, hosted by Let’s Connect, the peer learning program for and by Wikimedians. This was the first of two learning clinics dedicated to public policy advocacy.

The clinic informed participants about creative and impactful tactics that Wikimedians have used to advocate for copyright reform. Wikimedia Colombia described their experience participating in an official copyright reform process initiated by the Colombian government. They discussed how they worked with allies, which was key to their success. Wikimedia Italia discussed what happens when, on the contrary, governments are not interested in copyright reform, and how they leveraged existing Wikimedia campaigns, like Wiki Loves Monuments, and won the support of powerful actors like the Vatican to demonstrate the value of reforming such policies and frameworks.

The next learning clinic will take place on 21 February. It will be run by Wikimedia Indonesia and Wikimedia Sweden, who will focus on how to create awareness and educate stakeholders as tactics to reform copyright. Respectively, they will explain how educational initiatives can support a chapter’s strategy and plans, and how a massive defeat was turned into a source of strength to redouble advocacy efforts. Please make sure you register ahead of time!

For more details see the Let’s Connect calendar to register for upcoming sessions and access materials from previous learning clinics.

Announcements from our team

Second round of public policy advocacy grants starting now!

The Wikimedia Foundation included funding for public policy advocacy work in the General Support Fund for the first time ever in late 2023. If you missed this opportunity, do not worry. Round 2 is starting in February 2024 and will continue to feature funding opportunities for policy advocacy work. Adding this kind of work to the fund is an important way to support Wikimedia movement members who wish to protect and promote free knowledge.

Please note that the eligibility criteria are very strict. Interested applicants should read the guidelines on how to write a successful application. The webpage also covers essential information about how the application process works, what policy advocacy initiatives the Foundation will fund, and relevant examples.

Updated Meta-Wiki webpage and a curated list of resources

The Global Advocacy team’s Meta-Wiki webpage has a new look! We are continually trying to meet our movement’s requests to build a better front door, speak human, and centralize resources to support coordination. The changes we have made are meant to meet these requests and make the page more user-friendly. 

The webpage is less text heavy, includes context for every link, and is organized to meet the needs of Wikimedians trying to learn more about public policy advocacy work across the movement. We have reorganized where you can find key resources. You can see a compilation of the Foundation’s work on each policy priority in the “Documentation” section. A curated list of essential resources that have been created by the Foundation and various Wikimedians can be found in the “Resources” section. This resource center includes one-pagers on key policy positions, examples of open letters, responses to public consultations, speeches, repositories of anti-disinformation and copyright reform tactics, and more. We hope these changes are helpful!


Follow us on X (formerly Twitter), visit our Meta-Wiki webpage, join our Wikipedia policy mailing list, and sign up for our quarterly newsletter to receive updates. We hope to see you there!

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