Tim Berners-Lee shares his disappointment on World Wide Web’s 29th birthday

Father of World Wide Web

In an open letter father of World Wide Web shares his disappointment

Tim Berners-Lee also known as the father of World Wide Web shared his thoughts about the internet on the occasion of World Wide Web’s 29th birthday (12th March). He’s definitely not happy with the way internet has changed over the years. In an open letter appearing in The Guardian, Tim Berners Lee expressed his fears and ideas on how the internet should be for the people.

Since its inception in 1989 internet has come a long way and has undergone many changes. The accessibility and usage of the internet are no longer limited to a handful of people or just bits of data. Today internet plays an important role in millions of people’s lives. Right from the navigating the roads to booking a movie or a flight ticket, or video/audio calls to heavy online gaming, online shopping, online education and what not? Today internet has made almost everything and information’s available with ease.

Tim Berners-Lee is disappointed with the fact that web is really messed up today. He wrote “The web that many connected to years ago is not what new users will find today. What was once a rich selection of blogs and websites has been compressed under the powerful weight of a few dominant platforms. This concentration of power creates a new set of gatekeepers, allowing a handful of platforms to control which ideas and opinions are seen and shared.”

What do these dominant forces do?

As per Tim Berners-Lee, “These dominant platforms are able to lock in their position by creating barriers for competitors. They acquire startup challengers, buy up new innovations and hire the industry’s top talent. Add to this the competitive advantage that their user data gives them and we can expect the next 20 years to be far less innovative than the last.” He further writes:
“The fact that power is concentrated among so few companies has made it possible to weaponise the web at scale. In recent years, we’ve seen conspiracy theories trend on social media platforms, fake Twitter and Facebook accounts stoke social tensions, external actors interfere in elections, and criminals steal troves of personal data.

We’ve looked to the platforms themselves for answers. Companies are aware of the problems and are making efforts to fix them – with each change they make affecting millions of people. The responsibility – and sometimes burden – of making these decisions falls on companies that have been built to maximise profit more than to maximise social good.

How do we fix this problem?

Tim Berners-Lee suggests that a legal or regulatory framework that accounts for social objectives may help ease those tensions. Let’s assemble the brightest minds from business, technology, government, civil society, the arts and academia to tackle the threats to the web’s future. At the Web Foundation, we are ready to play our part in this mission and build the web we all want. Let’s work together to make it possible.