Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee has been the pioneer of the World Wide Web. In March 1989, which is exactly 28 years ago, he proposed a new information management system. He managed to obtain a communication line between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol client and server. To celebrate such a groundbreaking achievement, the web inventor revealed his own thoughts on how far the online realm has gone recently.
The Digital Letter of the Web Inventor
The 53-year-old computer scientist, Tim Berners-Lee wrote in a blog post about his concerns regarding the last 12 months. His focus was on fake news, online political advertisement, and the power of data. He reinforced the main goal of the web which seemed to have been forgotten amid social and political struggles. The online world is there to help humanity make a better reality, and it is by all means not an agent of disruption. This is why he celebrates the 28th anniversary of the Internet by describing how it can truly become a better place.
First of all, he tackles the loss of an important right that is as old as the Internet itself, namely the right to cyber security. He condemned how companies are buying personal data with so-called free content. By agreeing to their terms & conditions, users lose their direct control over their own personal information. This way, people are no longer safe. Bloggers’ real identity can be revealed which can lead even to their death. Moreover, the political system has no interdiction in monitoring and sanctioning opponents. As a consequence, the online world is no longer a fertile land for quality discussions around sensitive topics such as religion, health problems, and sexuality.
The Online World Might Crumble Under the Pressure of Fake News
Secondly, the web inventor makes a whole point about fake news. Tim Berners-Lee saw a disruptive news system where quantity prevails over quality. There are already too many ways to use the Internet for personal gain. Fake news is specially created to strike a chord in readers’ hearts and spread out in a matter of minutes. When people are tricked into clicking this kind of links, someone else wins financial or political benefits.
Finally, the computer scientist calls for a transparent medium for political advertising. He ends up questioning the democratic fabric of the European Union. When an important event such as the 2016 US election relied on 50,000 daily versions of ads to win the game and not on transparency, the system might fall in unethical pits. His final words highlight the fact that the Internet is merely a reflection of its users. Thus, it is up to users to create and mold the online medium they want.
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