China has banned Wikipedia from search results in all languages. The Open Observatory of Network Interference reported the ban began with just the Chinese language, but has now been expanded to include all languages. This ban comes as the government continues to limit the access of the Chinese people to the free site, which features articles in more than 300 languages. Wikipedia is owned by The Wikimedia Foundation, a non profit organization supported by donors. The site is a community edited encyclopedia of information compiled over years of research.
China Bans Wikipedia Following Turkey’ Example
China banning Wikipedia is not the first time the site has come under fire from a government regime. Turkey implemented a ban on the site in 2017 and has also intermittently banned sites like Twitter and YouTube. It seems the governments in these countries are fearful that their population may be able to gain access to information which is censored in the country. So, the bans are meant to completely eliminate this information from web browsers in their geographic locations. While bans on particular sites are rarely newsworthy, this particular one has caught the attention of the press because Wikipedia is not generally considered as a harmful or malicious website. China began by banning particular search terms on the site, then expanded the ban to include the entire site over time.
Bans Are Becoming More Sophisticated
When China banned Wikipedia in 2016 it only removed the English version of the site. Because of this, users were able to circumnavigate the ban by viewing pages in other languages. However, according to the Washington Post, the bans are now very complex and nearly impossible to get around. Government censorship is not a new thing in China, in fact it has been a part of their culture for centuries. However, with the advent of the Internet, their ability to limit the influx of information via the worldwide web was hampered. As technology has advanced, they have been forced to improve their methods of censorship. China bans Wikipedia in an effort to continue controlling information, proving that Internet monitoring is very possible.
Will Other Countries Follow Suit?
Turkey and China are not the only countries to pass bans on websites they find offensive or threatening to their populace. Many countries currently have bans on sites containing pornographic material or other information they consider detrimental to society. The justice of censorship isn’t really the topic of this article, but China banning Wikipedia throws it into sharp focus. How much censorship is too much? Surely it is easy to understand countries blocking websites that give step by step instructions for carrying out attacks on groups of people. Banning a site with bomb building descriptions would also be understandable. However, banning a site that provides peer updated information on a wide variety of useful topics seems a bit intense, even for a communist regime.