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The Daily Mail has 'mastered the art of running stories that aren't true', Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales says

  • Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said the Daily Mail has "mastered the art" of printing fake news stories.
  • Wales has started a site called Wikitribune to tackle fake news.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has slammed British newspaper The Daily Mail, accusing it of publishing fake news articles and "hyped up" headlines.

Speaking to CNBC on Friday, Wales, who has started up a new site called Wikitribune to tackle the problem of fake news, took aim at the Mail.

"I think what they've done brilliantly in this ad funded world (is) they've mastered the art of click bait, they've mastered the art of hyped up headlines, they've also mastered the art of, I'm sad to say, of running stories that simply aren't true," Wales told CNBC in a TV interview.

"And that's why Wikipedia decided not to accept them as a source anymore. It's very problematic, they get very upset when we say this, but it's just fact, so there you go."

In February, Wikipedia, the site which allows community members to contribute entries, banned the Daily Mail from being cited as a source on its pages, deeming the publication to be "generally unreliable".

Following Wales' comments, DMG Media, the owner of the Daily Mail, hit back claiming that it was, in fact, Wikipedia that struggled with accuracy.

"DailyMail.com is the very antithesis of click-bait and hype headlines. We just tell stories better than anyone else.

"Which is why we have such an astonishingly high proportion of people who visit our home pages and websites every day, almost half our global daily users.

"Mr. Wales' analysis is as inaccurate as any of the blunders for which his website has become notorious," a spokesman said via email Friday.

The former U.S.Congressman Anthony Weiner plead guilty Friday to charges of transferring obscene material to a minor, and DMG Media said it was this sort of journalism that the public appreciated.

"Only today Anthony Weiner has pleaded guilty to sexting with a minor as a direct result of an investigation last year by DailyMail.com. We will be interested to see who Wikipedia cites as the story's source," the media group added.

Wikitribune

Wales' comments come following the launch of his new venture called Wikitribune, a news site that is going to focus on "evidence-based journalism". Wikitribune is asking for people to donate money to pay for 10 journalists. So far, 7 journalists have been funded, while Wales has personally hired two.

"One of the things that we are trying to do that's different is bring in a Wiki style community alongside professional journalists to work together to really do something new and different in the space of journalism," Wales explained.

The hope is that members of the Wikitribune community can help source stories, but until the project is fully funded, it is unclear what kind of stories will be covered.

Facebook taking issue 'seriously'

Major internet platforms such as Facebook and Google have been criticized for not doing enough to tackle the spread of fake news on their platforms. Both companies have taken steps to address the problem such as improving the flagging process. Wales said that both companies are taking the issue seriously and are taking steps in the right direction.

"I think they should take it seriously as a business issue that if their platforms are not satisfying the people because they feel like I'm just getting nonsense from them, consumers will begin to turn off from those platforms so they need to provide a quality experience in the long run," Wales told CNBC.

"Consumers need to hold their feet to the fire, and say, 'you really do need to take a look at this stuff because I don't want to be tricked by fake information'."