Wikipedia Zero

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Wikipedia Zero
Wikipedia Zero Logo.svg
The Wikipedia Zero logo
Affiliations Wikimedia Foundation
Browsing Wikipedia via Ncell in Nepal.

Wikipedia Zero is a project by the Wikimedia Foundation to provide Wikipedia free of charge on mobile phones, particularly in developing markets.[1][2] The program was launched in 2012,[3] and won a 2013 SXSW Interactive Award for activism.[4] The objective of the program is to increase access to free knowledge: in particular without data-usage cost.

Facebook Zero has been cited as an inspiration for Wikipedia Zero.[5]


Map of participating countries, as of March 2015

Below is a selective history of launches. For a complete list of participating mobile networks and launch dates, see Wikimedia Foundation: mobile network partners.

Participating mobile networks[edit]

See Wikimedia Foundation: mobile network partners.

Reception and impact[edit]

Promotional video, produced by the Wikimedia Foundation and narrated by Jimmy Wales.
Promotional video about free access to Wikipedia, featuring a school-class from South Africa and their open letter to tele-cos.

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.[18][19] 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."[20] 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."[21] 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."[22]

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.[23] 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'."[24] 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.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Russell, Brandon (February 22, 2013). "Wikipedia Zero Wants to Bring Wikipedia to Mobile Users Without a Data Plan". TechnoBuffalo. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  2. ^ Wadhwa, Kul Takanao (February 22, 2013). "Getting Wikipedia to the people who need it most". Knight Foundation. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  3. ^ Sofge, Erik (March 8, 2013). "SXSW: Wikipedia for Non-Smartphones Is Brilliant. Here's Why". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  4. ^ Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 44: attempt to index a nil value.
  5. ^ Dillon, Conon (December 18, 2013). "Wikipedia Zero: free data if you can afford it". Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  6. ^ "Wikipedia Zero launches in Malaysia with Digi — Wikimedia blog". 2012-05-26. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
  7. ^ "Mobilink brings Wikipedia Zero to Pakistan". Retrieved 2013-06-27.
  8. ^ "Wikipedia FREE". Dialog. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  9. ^ "Tech Talk | Wikipedia Zero | A righteous initiative for accessing free knowledge". 2013-12-02. Retrieved 2014-06-24.
  10. ^ "Banglalink launches Wikipedia Zero :: Financial Express :: Financial Newspaper of Bangladesh". Retrieved 2014-06-24.
  11. ^ "Kosovo's Largest Foreign Investment Sets Tone for Innovation". Hazlehurst Media SA. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  12. ^ "Wikipedia Zero arrives in Nepal via Ncell and you don't have to pay a Paisa to use it". Retrieved 2014-05-19.
  13. ^ "Beeline открыл бесплатный доступ к Wikipedia для своих абонентов".
  14. ^ "Абоненти "Київстар" можуть користуватися Wikipedia з нульовим балансом на рахунку". Kyivstar. Retrieved 2014-11-13.
  15. ^ "MTN Ghana empowers customers with free access to Wikipedia". Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  16. ^ "MTN Ghana empowers customers with free access to Wikipedia". Ghana News Agency. 22 December 2014. Retrieved December 24, 2014.
  17. ^ "TelenorMyanmar - Free Wikipedia".
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ McKenzie, Jessica (June 2, 2014). "Face Off in Chile: Net Neutrality v. Human Right to Facebook & Wikipedia". Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  20. ^ "Net Neutrality and the Global Digital Divide". Electronic Frontier Foundation.
  21. ^ "Wikipedia Zero and net neutrality: Wikimedia turns its back on the open internet". 2014-08-08.
  22. ^ "Wikipedia's 'complicated' relationship with net neutrality". Washington Post.
  23. ^ Alistair Sloan (24 March 2015). "Manipulating Wikipedia to Promote a Bogus Business School". Newsweek.
  24. ^ Hilary Heuler. "Who really wins from Facebook's 'free internet' plan for Africa?". ZDNet.
  25. ^ Leo Mirani (9 Feb 2015). "Millions of Facebook users have no idea they're using the internet".

External links[edit]

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