Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales, has strongly criticized X, formerly known as Twitter, following its recent acquisition by Elon Musk.
Speaking to CNBC at the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon, Wales expressed his concern over the social media platform, claiming that it has been “overrun by trolls and lunatics.” He also highlighted the decline in user engagement on X compared to previous years.
Image Credit: Horacio Villalobos | Getty Images. Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales.
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When asked about the impact of Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter on the social media landscape, Wales stated: “It’s a huge problem.”
Wales said thoughtful and serious users are abandoning the platform due to the increasing presence of trolls and inappropriate content. He emphasized that Twitter has been the default public square for people around the world, but the current state of the platform is detrimental to everyone.
Millions of users have left X following Musk’s takeover. According to data from market intelligence firm Similarweb, X’s global website traffic dipped 14% year over year in September, and U.S. traffic fell by 19% in the same period.
This latest statement from Wales adds to the growing conflict between the founder and Musk, which started last year when Musk accused Wikipedia of having “a non-trivial left-wing bias,” per CNBC. The dispute arose from a debate among Wikipedia editors about removing the platform’s entry on the Twitter Files.
These files were cited by Musk as evidence of biased content moderation against conservatives under the prior management of Twitter. Despite the controversy, Wikipedia opted to keep the entry, as the platform relies on a community of volunteers to maintain its content.
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During the Web Summit, Wales revealed he responded to Musk’s recent offer of $1 billion to Wikipedia if they changed their name to “Dickipedia” by saying, “I mean, he’s had a war of words with me, I just ignore him. So I didn’t really respond to that.”
Wales clarified that what Musk perceives as censorship, Wikipedia views as thoughtful editorial judgment. He concluded by saying, “Elon will be Elon.”
Earlier this year, Wales launched Trust Cafe, his alternative to X. Describing it as a “pilot project,” he aims to create a community of trustworthy individuals. This platform seeks to provide a quality user experience based on content trustworthiness, rather than virality, and is not ad-supported, per CNBC.