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Web inventor addresses the internet?s biggest issues

Sir Tim Berners-Lee - the man credited for inventing the World Wide Web in the early ‘90s - has spoke out about the trappings and negative aspects of modern life online.

In a column for The Guardian, Sir Tim spoke of his pride that the web had lived up to his vision of allowing people around the world to share information and collaborate, regardless of location or culture.

However, he admitted that he has become concerned about users losing control over their personal data, as well as the rise of misinformation - or ‘fake news’ as it has become more widely known recently. Sir Tim also called for transparency regarding online political advertising.

Personal data

On the subject of personal data, he accepted that free content in exchange for personal data was a fair deal. However, he believed that users should have be able to choose when or with whom the data can be shared, taking issue with the fact that people rarely have any way of feeding back to companies which data they’d rather not share.

“The T&Cs are all or nothing,” Sir Tim writes. “Governments are also increasingly watching our every move online and passing extreme laws that trample on our rights to privacy.”

Fake news

Regarding misinformation, the web creator expressed concern that social media sites and search engines were showing users click-bait content that in many cases leads to misinformation spreading “like wildfire”.

“Through the use of data science and armies of bots, those with bad intentions can game the system to spread misinformation for financial or political gain,” Sir Tim explained.


Finally, he took issue with the lack of transparency surrounding online political advertising, which in some cases was communicating contradictory messages to different groups while voters were being dissuaded from going to the polling stations.

The remedy for this, at least in Sir Tim’s view, was more algorithmic transparency to understand how important decisions that affect users’ lives are being made. He also considered the introduction of a set of common principles to be followed but said the ‘internet blind spot’ in the regulation of political campaigning needed to be closed.

Signed off with a modest yet hopeful tone, he concluded by saying: “I may have invented the web, but all of you have helped to create what it is today. It has taken all of us to build the web we have, and now it is up to all of us to build the web we want – for everyone.”

Written by for Comms Express

Photo: Belinda Lawley/Southbank Centre - FlickrADNFCR-1186-ID-801833466-ADNFCR

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