Wikimedia child porn row escalates

Wikimedia Commons administrators last week deleted hundreds of images

Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, has revoked some his site founder's privileges after contributors protested that he had deleted images of children without warning.

Contributors argued that the decision to delete the files was rushed and undemocratic. Wales will no longer be able to delete or edit protected content on Wikipedia or related sites, including image host Wikimedia Commons.

The images were deleted after an estranged Wikipedia co-founder, Larry Sanger, in April reported Wikimedia Commons to the FBI. Sanger said there had been child pornography on the site that the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the sites, "knowingly" distributed.

Sanger later explained that his concern was about "obscene visual representations of the abuse of children", potentially including sketches and sculptures. The Fox News network also reported the story and contacted high profile donors to the sites, increasing pressure to delete the images. It reported yesterday that a category labelled "nude children" remains on Wikimedia.

Wikimedia Commons administrators last week deleted hundreds of images, but some have been reinstated after being judged by contributors to have educational merit.

Michael Peel, chair of Wikimedia UK, told the BBC that "anyone" could go onto the Wikimedia Commons site to upload pictures. But he said: "Illegal stuff is deleted, and copyright stuff is deleted."

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