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Wales says no to outing Wikipedia users on Facebook

Social networking updates on activity ‘creepy’

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Wikipedia is not planning to link into the new Facebook Open Graph, network co-founder James Wales says, since it is “slightly weird and creepy.”

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Wales said that the site isn’t interested in signing up for Facebook’s Like buttons or similar software from social networking sites like Google+. This was especially true with the current changes to Facebook, which seek to enable what Zuckerberg calls “frictionless sharing,” but which others have called unwelcome intrusion.

“Things like sharing what you’re reading, that’s where Facebook bumps up against the line of what people find slightly weird and creepy,” Wales said. “If I go to read something on Wikipedia, that’s my own personal business…You should feel safe and private knowing that whatever you want to learn, you go to Wikipedia to learn it and you don’t have to worry that you’ve accidentally told Facebook you want to learn it.”

Wikipedia makes most of its decisions by community vote, and Wales pointed out that some parts of the community can be paranoid about such things, and also are keen to be seen as neutral and not become tied to outside companies.

Wales was speaking at the OMMA Global conference in New York and said that the biggest challenge facing the online encyclopedia at the moment was a lack of content from countries outside the US. Wikipedia is planning to counter this by opening its first overseas office in India. ®

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