An EU Project has published a study about Russian disinformation outlets cited on Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia anyone can edit. The EUvsDisinfo article describes the study as follows:
19 April 2022: In order to better understand the vulnerability of Wikipedia to both unwitting misinformation and intentional disinformation, we ran a pilot study last year focusing on four well-known pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets – SouthFront, NewsFront, InfoRos and Strategic Culture Foundation. All four are linked to Russian intelligence services and are sanctioned by the US Department of the Treasury for attempts to interfere in the 2020 US elections. Before diving into the findings, a comment on the methodology. The research aimed to answer three questions. First, what is the potential harm caused by the reference to the selected disinformation outlets? Second, are the links to the outlets intentional or the result of mere negligence? Third, what are the potential ways to reduce the impact of this?
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The study found that the articles citing these pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets were mainly in areas of interest to the Russian government, such as the Middle East, Syria, and the words “Russian” or “intervention.” The article notes that even when the websites were cited, they were sometimes considered valid resources because they had re-printed a press release. The article also notes that some language versions of Wikipedia have taken steps to remove citations from these sources because they are Russian disinformation sites, leading to a significant reduction of their use in the English and French versions of Wikipedia. The article also did not find evidence that these websites were cited with an intent to manipulate information but argues that their presence on Wikipedia is a threat to its reputation and the integrity of its service.