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How the Russian Invasion of Ukraine Is Playing Out on English, Ukrainian, and Russian Wikipedia
“Editing Wikipedia from a bomb shelter is difficult.”
On Thursday, President Vladimir Putin issued the order for Russian forces to invade Ukraine. Since then, Russians have killed 352 Ukrainian civilians, including 14 children, according to Reuters news. That information is now reflected on the English Wikipedia page for the “2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine,” an article that sprang to life mere minutes after Putin’s televised address and has been collaboratively written by nearly 740 distinct authors as of Tuesday morning.
With deadly explosions in Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv and a developing refugee crisis, it might seem odd to cover the play-by-play of a digital encyclopedia. But internet-savvy Ukrainians, including the country’s own Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recognize that how the facts are represented on Wikipedia matters. Right now, the number of people reading about Ukraine on Wikipedia is at an unprecedented high—spiking to more than 22 million English page views in the past month versus roughly 290,000 in Feb. 2021. Meanwhile, Russia is coupling its lethal military campaign with a Goebbels-like propaganda blitz. The lies from Moscow put pressure on Wikipedia to maintain the site’s disinformation countermeasures.