Dominant platforms have ruined the web, says Berners-Lee

Dominant platforms have ruined the web, says Berners-Lee

Dominant platforms have ruined the web, says Berners-Lee

On the 29th birthday of the world wide web, its founder Tim Berners-Lee has penned down an interesting perspective about how the web is now exclusively controlled by a handful of companies and how a regulator may soon be needed to monitor it to prevent it from being weaponised at scale. But I remain committed to making sure the Web is a free, open, creative space - for everyone.

"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", he writes.

A lot has changed in the previous year, with most people now accepting that Russian Federation used the big online platforms to at least try to undermine the 2016 USA elections.

The inventor goes on to say that these so-called gatekeepers buy up innovations and talent in a bid to lock their position on the web.

"What's more, the fact that power is concentrated among so few companies has made it possible to weaponise the web at scale".

The social network, along with Google and Twitter, appeared before Congress to answer questions on the extent of Russian meddling in the 2016 USA election. The responsibility-and sometimes burden-of making these decisions falls on companies that have been built to maximize profit more than to maximize social good.

Expressing concern over how big internet platforms handle users' data in targeting advertising, Berners-Lee said a balance needed to be found between the interests of companies and online citizens.

He says that while the Web's problems are complex and large, they should be thought of as mere coding bugs. Create a new set of incentives and changes in the code will follow. The second myth is the idea that it's "too late now" for existing platforms to change their revenue model. However, his vision to create an "open platform that allows anyone to share information, access opportunities and collaborate across geographical boundaries" has been challenged as the web has become more centralised.

Lastly, Berners-Lee believes there needs to be a greater discussion about the web and how it can be improved.

He wants a meeting of people from "business, technology, government, civil society, the arts and academia" to come together and try to right the ship.

"I want the web to reflect our hopes and fulfill our dreams, rather than magnify our fears and deepen our divisions", Berners-Lee writes as the web gets closer to being a full three decades old. Then, he's saying we must "make the web work for people", which means dominant platforms should make an effort not to "choke" the little guy.

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