Hands up if you’ve used Wikipedia today. It looks like there’s one group that won’t be welcome to post on the site for awhile: the Church of Scientology. Now before everyone starts throwing out Tom Cruise jokes and South Park quotes (yes, I have teenagers, and yes, I’ve seen the Scientology episode), I’d prefer us to examine the heart of the issue. It’s something that will continue to increase in frequency as social media evolves and changes. I’m referring to trust. Wikipedia’s decision to block IP addresses that come from known Scientology sources is the result of the organization breaking one of the Web site’s major rules: posts must maintain neutrality. The Church of Scientology is alleged to have promoted its own agenda when making or editing posts on Wikipedia. The fact that this occurred on several occasions led the Web giant to take extreme action.
But what does this really mean to you and I? From the moment the words “Web site” entered our everyday parlance, they’ve come along with that famous grain of salt with which were supposed to take info gleaned from the online world. Wikipedia’s actions demonstrate a continued need for policing in those instances when trust is violated. It’s also interesting to note that this news arrives on the same day that President Obama announces the creation of a cyber security office in the White House. With the Web being a tool which we can no longer live without, we are as much a part of the trust equation as those with malicious intentions. Continued cooperation between Web site host and user will be necessary to ensure that there remain some places where we can possibly believe some of what we read.
Since we’re on the topic of trust, don’t forget to check out our next Soundview Live event with Stephen M.R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust. Subscribers will have the opportunity to interact with Stephen beginning at 2:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, June 9, 2009. If you’re not a subscriber, visit Summary.comto find out how you can join us on June 9th.