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World Wide Web inventor and computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee calls for the regulation of big technology companies in order to prevent the web to be “weaponized.”
As WWW celebrates its 29th anniversary since its invention, Berners-Lee wrote an open letter on The Guardian, saying that there is a proliferation of web problems because of a concentration of power among few platforms, such as Twitter, Google, and Facebook. He said that people have witnessed how fake social media accounts can incite social tensions, how criminals steal personal data, how conspiracy theories became popular on social media, and how external actors encroach on elections. The proliferation of these incidents occurs because large tech firms control which opinions and ideas are shared and seen.
The 62-year-old computer scientist adds that “what was once a rich selection of blogs and websites has been compressed under the powerful weight of a few dominant platforms.”
Berners-Lee refers these big tech firms as online gatekeepers, locking their power by purchasing smaller rivals and other new innovations. He cited Google that now accounts for nearly 87 percent of worldwide online searches and Facebook which has about 2.2 billion monthly active social media users. To help ease the tension, he said that there is a need for a regulator or legal framework that will account for social objectives.
He also said that he wanted the web to be a reflection of people’s hopes and to fulfill dreams, not to deepen the division and magnify fears.