The Daily Mail has been banned by Wikipedia editors as a source unless in exceptional circumstances. The news group has been branded ‘generally unreliable’ in an unprecedented move which is highly unusual for the online encyclopaedia.
The decision was taken by volunteer editors of English Wikipedia, who have been discussing the reliability of the Daily Mail since May last year. They explained the decision is based on the Daily Mail’s ‘’reputation for poor fact checking, sensationalism and flat out fabrication’’.
Those editors who opposed the ban pointed towards inaccurate reports in other publications, suggesting that the move may have been motivated more by a dislike for the publication then genuine concerns over its reliability. The move will likely raise questions over Wikipedia’s continued links to sources such as Russia Today, which is backed by the Kremlin, and Fox News. Recently, the latter incorrectly identified the perpetrator behind the Quebec mosque terror attack as being of Moroccan descent, only withdrawing the comments after intervention from Justin Trudeau’s office.
The Daily Mail ban comes amid renewed efforts from online platforms to limit the spread of fake news. A recent Buzzfeed survey has shed some light on the nature of fake news in the UK, finding that completely ‘fake’ news stories are less popular here due to the already highly partisan nature of the press. In the case of the UK, the public is more likely to share exaggerated reports than wholly fabricated ones, as is increasingly common in the US and Italy. This would suggest that future attempts to counter fake news in the UK will increasingly focus on traditional publications.