Google To Close Freebase, Which Helped Feed Its Knowledge Graph


Google is shutting down Freebase, its open source repository of facts that, in part, helps power the Google Knowledge Graph.

Google announced the news today on Google+, saying:

We’ve decided to help transfer the data in Freebase to Wikidata, and in mid-2015 we’ll wind down the Freebase service as a standalone project.

This means that the data won’t be lost but instead will be transferred to Wikimedia Foundation’s project Wikidata, which will have their own API to so that developers who want to retrieve facts automatically, as they did with Freebase, can still do so. This would include Google also pulling data from Wikidata, to help power its Knowledge Graph.

Here is the timeline of what is changing and when it is changing with Freebase:

  • Before the end of March 2015 they will launch a Wikidata import review tool and announce a transition plan for the Freebase Search API & Suggest Widget to a Knowledge Graph-based solution.
  • On March 31, 2015, Freebase as a service will become read-only, the website will no longer accept edits and they will retire the MQL write API.
  • On June 30, 2015 they will retire the Freebase website and APIs and the last Freebase data dump will remain available, but developers should check out the Wikidata dump.

Freebase had a committed volunteer base, and when communities change ownership and hands, sometimes those volunteers stop updating the data. In addition, it is unclear if migrating to Wikidata will make it harder for volunteers to update the data.

It is also unclear if the closure of Freebase will make it harder for people to influence Google’s Knowledge Graph, for better or worse. Expect more on this in a follow-up story from us.

Hat tip to Bill Hartzer for spotting this.

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