Freebase was a substantial knowledge base that relied mainly on entries from its community members. They gathered information from various well-known sources such as Wikipedia, MusicBrainz, and the Notable Names Database (NNDB).
In Freebase users with no programming knowledge could fill in metadata in different categories and connect the entries in a semantically meaningful way. That helped both people and AI machines gather information from the base.
Google purchased Metaweb, the original creator of the tool, in 2010.
As with many tools and services acquired by Google over the years, Freebase didn’t fail but was integrated into a bigger project. Its considerable database of more than 46 million topics was being used for Google’s Knowledge Graph along with sources like Wikipedia and CIA’s World Factbook.
However, in December 2014, Google announced that they had decided to discontinue the Freebase service and move all data to the Wikidata project by the end of March 2015.
Here are some of the reasons they provided:
“We believe strongly in a robust community-driven effort to collect and curate structured knowledge about the world, but we now think we can serve that goal best by supporting Wikidata — they’re growing fast, have an active community, and are better-suited to lead an open collaborative knowledge base.”
Any Freebase developer APIs were replaced with ones powered by Knowledge Graph, and the service was permanently shut-down on June 20, 2015.