The Unethics of Sharing: Wikiwashing

Hi there!

A great special issue on the “Ethics of Sharing” by W. Sützl & F. Stalder at International Review of Information Ethics – Vol 15 has just been released. Among others (such as great Felix Stalder and Micheal Bauwens piece), it includes a paper from me on “The Unethics of Sharing: Wikiwashing”.

But what is wikiwashing about?

In order for online communities to assemble and grow, some basic infrastructure is necessary that makes possible the aggregation of the collective action. There is a very intimate and complex relationship between the technological infrastructure and the social character of the community which uses it. Today, most infrastructure is provided by corporations and the contrast between community and corporate dynamics is becoming increasingly pronounced. But in some occasions, rather than address the issues, the corporations are actively obfuscating it. Wikiwashing refers to a strategy of (some) media corporate where practices associated to their role of infrastructure providers (such as abusive terms of use, privacy violation, censorship, and use of voluntary work for profit purposes, among others) that would be seen as unethical by the communities they enable are concealed by promoting a misleading image of themselves associated with the general values of wikis and Wikipedia (such as sharing and collaboration, openness and transparency).

The empirical analysis of this piece is based on case studies (Facebook , Yahoo! and Google) and triangulation of several methods.

See the complete special issue on “Ethics of Sharing”:

See my piece on “Unethics of Sharing: Wikiwashing”:

Hope you enjoy it! Critics welcome.

Cheers! Mayo