- Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales criticized the moderation policies of X in an interview at Web Summit.
- He contends the platform has become overrun with trolls and “a lot of thoughtful and serious” are leaving.
- Wales recently launched Trust Cafe, a voluntary membership platform meant to be an X alternative.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales just threw the latest punch in his ongoing feud with X owner Elon Musk.
Wales said that X — formerly known as Twitter — has become, in his view, overrun with “trolls and lunatics. He contended “a lot of thoughtful and serious people are fleeing” in an interview with CNBC at Web Summit.
And given that X functions as a “default public square” for the world, “it’s not good for any of us,” Wales said.
In May, Wales slammed Musk for what Wales said was caving into pressure from Turkey’s government and censoring tweets, while Wikipedia had “stood strong” when it faced legal opposition in Turkey. Musk taunted Wikipedia saying that he’d give the organization a billion dollars to change its name to “Dickipedia” in tweet in October.
But the core of the Wales-Musk feud seems to boil down to ideological differences on how to moderate online media.
Musk has previously accused Wikipedia of having a “left-wing bias.”
And he’s been vocal about his own stance on what should count as free speech on social media. The day after he sealed his $44 billion deal to buy X, formerly Twitter, Musk announced his plans to create a “content moderation council” made up of people with “widely diverse viewpoints.” Musk also reinstated several accounts once banned from the former Twitter, including that of former President Donald Trump, rapper Kanye West, and influencer Andrew Tate.
Wales, meanwhile, is working on Trust Cafe — a pilot project that he’s billing as an alternative to X. The platform aims to prioritize content based on “trustworthiness” rather than “viral likability,” Wales explained.
What Musk “refers to as censorship we refer to as thoughtful editorial judgment,” Wales said.
Wales, however, also admitted that he’s not sure about how viable Trust Cafe’s business model will be. Instead of advertisements, the platform will be supported by voluntary membership, where people have the option to become paying members if they want. In that way, it’s not unlike Wikipedia, where encyclopedia entries are often created and maintained by members for free.
“It’s probably a terrible business model, but that’s the history of my career,” he said with a laugh.
The reason Trust Cafe is taking on this business model, though, is to separate itself from existing social media models and figure out what people are really willing to pay for, he said. “If you have the same business model as everyone else, you’re driven by the same pressures. If you have a different business model you can say, ‘OK, now, why would people pay for this?'”
X and Wales did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for a comment.