Mayo Fuster Morell

Wikiwashing refers to a set of actions developed by corporations that first and foremost offer services for information sharing and collaboration online in order to build, promote or direct attention towards an image of themselves connoted with the positive values associated with sharing and collaboration among peers (their users) or to associate its image with that of non-corporate entities such as Wikipedia or wiki technology in general; secondly, it refers to concealing or limiting access to its role as a commercial service and infrastructure provider—such as conditions of use, sharing data with governments, profit-making—in order to perform unethical and abusive practices in these areas.
The term ‘wikiwashing’ is proposed for several reasons in order to frame this set of activities. Firstly it includes a reference to wiki. On many occasions, Wikipedia or wiki technologies in general, and the positive values associated with them, have explicitly been used by corporations to “wash” (i.e. clean up), and thus make attractive, their image. Secondly, the term wiki equates with speed. The reactions of corporations to “wash” their image tend to be very fast and aggressive, in order to stop negative images of themselves spreading virally. Thirdly, wiki is also used to refer to the new economy as “Wikinomics” (Tapscott & Williams, 2007). Fourthly, it includes the notion of washing, referring to an act of keeping something “clean” of negative expressions or interest in the corporate image. Finally, and most importantly, wikiwashing is analogous with “whitewashing”.

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