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Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales sets up ad-free Wikitribune site to tackle fake news

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, is to launch Wikitribune, a news site aiming to tackle the idea that "the news is broken and we can fix it," in the face of problems that Facebook and others have had in curbing the spread of false information.

The site will be run by journalists as well as a community of volunteers who will verify stories, Wales said in a video posted on the Wikitribune site today.

"Because ads are cheap, competition for clicks is fierce and low quality news sources are everywhere," he explained in the video.

"Social media, where most people get their news these days, is literally designed to show us what we want to see, to confirm our biases and to keep us clicking at all costs. It fundamentally breaks the news. The truth is, on the internet, no one is guarding the gate. So it's time to rethink the gatekeeper."

As with Wikipedia, the site Wales launched with Larry Sanger in 2001, Wikitribune will be co-created with the community, and will be funded by donations rather than advertising. Wales also aims to hire ten journalists.

The homepage of the website states: "Articles are authored, fact-checked, and verified by professional journalists and community members working side by side as equals, and supported not primarily by advertisers, but by readers who care about good journalism enough to become monthly supporters."

Wikitribune's entry on Wikipedia – which is not affiliated with the new site – says: "The goal is to offer 'factual and neutral' articles in order to fight the problem of 'fake news'."

Clodagh Kilcoyne | Getty Images

Speaking on the BBC's Today radio program this morning, Wales said: "One of the things that I'm a big believer in here is controls, that this is a gatekeeping function, so much as Wikipedia isn't just a place you can go and post any random thought you have, it's not a wide-open blogging platform, neither should Wikitribune be, it should be very tightly controlled by the community in terms of what's allowed to be posted or not."

Wales lists some high-profile advisors on the Wikitribune home page: journalism professor Jeff Jarvis, marketing expert and former Apple staffer Guy Kawasaki and actor and entrepreneur Lily Cole.

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