YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki at SXSW earlier this week said the Google-owned video sharing site would soon be adding “information cues” to videos dealing with conspiracy theories, hoaxes and those that have inspired significant public debate.

The cues – small nuggets of information sourced from Wikipedia – will appear beneath videos and are meant to provide viewers with “additional information,” she said.

Apparently, this is news to the non-profit organization behind Wikipedia.


The Wikimedia Foundation recently published a statement on Twitter regarding YouTube’s announcement. In it, the foundation said that while they are happy to see people, companies and organizations recognize Wikipedia’s value as a repository of free knowledge, they aren’t part of a formal partnership with YouTube and weren’t given advanced notice of the announcement.

Of course, YouTube doesn’t need the foundation’s approval to use information from Wikipedia. As outlined in its statement, Wikipedia’s content is freely licensed for reuse by anyone.

YouTube linking to Wikipedia has its pros and cons.

YouTube attracts a tremendous amount of traffic and even if only a small fraction of visitors ever click through to Wikipedia, well, that’s free traffic and more eyes that might be willing to donate to the foundation’s cause. Conversely, the extra attention could result in “increased vandalism.” After all, the site’s contributions come from an army of volunteers. If YouTube were to send nefarious-minded individuals to Wikipedia who were intent on hijacking content, it could be a headache for editors.