The Wikipedia Zero logo
Wikipedia Zero is a project by the Wikimedia Foundation to provide Wikipedia free of charge on mobile phones, particularly in developing markets. The program was launched in 2012, and won a 2013 SXSW Interactive Award for activism. The objective of the program is to increase access to free knowledge: in particular without data-usage cost.
Below is a selective history of launches. For a complete list of participating mobile networks and launch dates, see Wikimedia Foundation: mobile network partners.
- May 2012: Malaysia
- July 26, 2012: Kenya, with Orange S.A.
- October 2012: Thailand, with dtac; Saudi Arabia with Saudi Telecom Company
- May 2013: Pakistan, with Mobilink
- June 2013: Sri Lanka, with Dialog Axiata
- October 2013: Jordan, with Umniah; Bangladesh, with Banglalink
- April 2014: Kosovo, on the IPKO network
- May 2014: Nepal, with Ncell and in Kyrgyzstan with Beeline
- October 2014: Ukraine, with Kyivstar
- November 2014: Morocco, with inwi and Maroc Telecom
- December 2014: Ghana, with MTN Ghana
- September 2014: Myanmar, with Telenor
Participating mobile networks
Reception and impact
The Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones of Chile ruled that zero-rating services like Wikipedia Zero, Facebook Zero, and Google Free Zone, that subsidize mobile data usage, violate net neutrality laws and had to end the practice by June 1, 2014. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has said, "Whilst we appreciate the intent behind efforts such as Wikipedia Zero, ultimately zero rated services are a dangerous compromise." Accessnow.org has been more critical, saying, "Wikimedia has always been a champion for open access to information, but it’s crucial to call out zero-rating programs for what they are: Myopic deals that do great damage to the future of the open internet." The Wikimedia Foundation's Gayle Karen Young defended the program to the Washington Post, saying, "We have a complicated relationship to net neutrality. We believe in net neutrality in America," while adding that Wikipedia Zero required a different perspective in other countries: "Partnering with telecom companies in the near term, it blurs the net neutrality line in those areas. It fulfills our overall mission, though, which is providing free knowledge."
In 2015, Newsweek reported that the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, an unaccredited Indian university, misled rural families into believing it was accredited, while a Wikipedia Administrator whitewashed critical information from the school's Wikipedia page. Mahesh Peri, publisher of a magazine that ran critical investigations into the school, criticised Wikipedia Zero for exposing poor farmers to biased information on the school's page.
Hilary Heuler argues that "for many, zero-rated programs would limit online access to the 'walled gardens' offered by the web heavyweights. For millions of users, Facebook and Wikipedia would be synonymous with 'internet'." In 2015, researchers evaluating how the similar program Facebook Zero shapes ICT use in the developing world found that 11% of Indonesians who said they used Facebook also said they did not use the Internet. 65% of Nigerians, 61% of Indonesians, and 58% of Indians agree with the statement that "Facebook is the Internet" compared with only 5% in the US.
- Alliance for Affordable Internet
- Facebook Zero
- Google Free Zone
- Net Neutrality
- Russell, Brandon (February 22, 2013). "Wikipedia Zero Wants to Bring Wikipedia to Mobile Users Without a Data Plan". TechnoBuffalo. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
- Wadhwa, Kul Takanao (February 22, 2013). "Getting Wikipedia to the people who need it most". Knight Foundation. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
- Sofge, Erik (March 8, 2013). "SXSW: Wikipedia for Non-Smartphones Is Brilliant. Here's Why". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
- Riese, Monica (March 12, 2013). "SXSW Interactive Awards Announced". The Austin Chronicle. Austin, Texas: Austin Chronicle Corp. ISSN 1074-0740. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
- Dillon, Conon (December 18, 2013). "Wikipedia Zero: free data if you can afford it". Retrieved January 15, 2014.
- "Wikipedia Zero launches in Malaysia with Digi — Wikimedia blog". Blog.wikimedia.org. 2012-05-26. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
- "Mobilink brings Wikipedia Zero to Pakistan". nation.com.pk. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
- "Wikipedia FREE". Dialog. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
- "Tech Talk | Wikipedia Zero | A righteous initiative for accessing free knowledge". Archive.thedailystar.net. 2013-12-02. Retrieved 2014-06-24.
- "Banglalink launches Wikipedia Zero :: Financial Express :: Financial Newspaper of Bangladesh". Thefinancialexpress-bd.com. Retrieved 2014-06-24.
- "Kosovo's Largest Foreign Investment Sets Tone for Innovation". www.the-american-times.com. Hazlehurst Media SA. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
- "Wikipedia Zero arrives in Nepal via Ncell and you don't have to pay a Paisa to use it". Retrieved 2014-05-19.
- "Beeline открыл бесплатный доступ к Wikipedia для своих абонентов".
- "Абоненти "Київстар" можуть користуватися Wikipedia з нульовим балансом на рахунку". Kyivstar. Retrieved 2014-11-13.
- "MTN Ghana empowers customers with free access to Wikipedia". myjoyonline.com. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
- "MTN Ghana empowers customers with free access to Wikipedia". myjoyonline.com. Ghana News Agency. 22 December 2014. Retrieved December 24, 2014.
- "TelenorMyanmar - Free Wikipedia". telenor.com.mm.
- Mirani, Leo (May 30, 2014). "Less than zero – When net neutrality backfires: Chile just killed free access to Wikipedia and Facebook". Quartz. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
- McKenzie, Jessica (June 2, 2014). "Face Off in Chile: Net Neutrality v. Human Right to Facebook & Wikipedia". Retrieved July 2, 2014.
- "Net Neutrality and the Global Digital Divide". Electronic Frontier Foundation.
- "Wikipedia Zero and net neutrality: Wikimedia turns its back on the open internet". accessnow.org. 2014-08-08.
- "Wikipedia's 'complicated' relationship with net neutrality". Washington Post.
- Alistair Sloan (24 March 2015). "Manipulating Wikipedia to Promote a Bogus Business School". Newsweek.
- Hilary Heuler. "Who really wins from Facebook's 'free internet' plan for Africa?". ZDNet.
- Leo Mirani (9 Feb 2015). "Millions of Facebook users have no idea they're using the internet".