Welcome to Wiczipedia: a newsletter about disinformation, democracy, and digital hate, written by Nina Jankowicz.
This newsletter has existed in several incarnations over the past seven years: for a while, I wrote “news and analysis from places where people know how to pronounce my name”—that is, Central and Eastern Europe—and later, weekly updates from my year-long stint as a Fulbright Public Policy Fellow in Ukraine. In 2019, I covered Ukrainian presidential election that brought Volodymyr Zelenskyy to power, and then started writing longer pieces, including an investigation into Instagram cash-for-comments scheme ahead of the 2020 presidential election, and essays on topics as disparate as deep fake porn, the revolution in Belarus, and online inhumanity.
We have entered the era of Internet 3.0. The initial utopia of our online experience gave way to frightening patterns of violence and extremism. Now we’re looking for something a bit more deliberate. After wasting too much time on Twitter, opening myself up to abuse, despairing when my silliest tweets went viral while my most considered analysis sat collecting internet dust, I am redirecting my energy to this newsletter, where I’ll write about three broad topics that have immense influence over our daily lives: disinformation, democracy, and digital hate.
Wiczipedia is a place where I publish writing that perhaps wouldn’t find a home elsewhere, either because it is on the niche end of the spectrum or because editorial staff are focused on the hot issues pegged to the news cycle. As Twitter dies a slow and painful death and we struggle to reconstitute our online homes on new platforms, I’m hoping that you might join me here, where I hope to engage with a slower, more thoughtful, less reactive, more civil internet. I’m not looking to make a buck. I’m just looking to consider, and to connect.
Who are you, Nina?
First things first: I’m a new mom. Perhaps attempting to reinvigorate this newsletter as the mother of an infant is insane. If I suddenly stop writing, it’s probably because I’ve been sucked into a particularly interesting case of “but seriously, how did poo get there?”
I’m an author and researcher. Along with an extensive list of pubications in newspapers and periodicals, I wrote a How to Lose the Information War, which The New Yorker called “a persuasive new book on disinformation as a geopolitical strategy.” My second book, How to Be A Woman Online, an examination of online abuse and disinformation and tips for fighting back, was deemed “essential” by Publisher’s Weekly. I’ve testified before Congress on multiple occasions, researched global social media regulation efforts, and led a team behind a landmark report on how disinformation and online harassment affect women and marginalized communities.
The title of this newsletter is a lighthearted play on words. It makes more sense if you pronounce my last name the Polish way (yahn-KOH-veech… veech-i-ped-i-a… get it?). I do not pretend to be the incredible resource that is Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. Don’t be ridiculous.