In an interview with Reuters, father of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee expressed disappointment over the state of his creation. He was particularly concerned by the abuse of personal data by Silicon Valley corporations like Google and Facebook, and the ease with which hate speech seems to proliferate across social media.
The 63-year old condemned the concentration of user communities in the hands of a few corporations, and said that historically, it was governments that came in and dismantled these kinds of monopolies.
“What naturally happens is you end up with one company dominating the field so through history there is no alternative to really coming in and breaking things up,” said Berners-Lee.
However, he added that this may not be needed, as changes in consumer taste and further innovations in technology could make such actions by world governments unnecessary.
“Before breaking them up, we should see whether they are not just disrupted by a small player beating them out of the market, but by the market shifting, by the interest going somewhere else,” he told Reuters.
He added, “I am disappointed with the current state of the Web. We have lost the feeling of individual empowerment and to a certain extent also I think the optimism has cracked.”
Criticizing contemporary social media platforms, Berners-Lee lamented that it was still far to easy to propagate hate on social media. He stated, “If you put a drop of love into Twitter it seems to decay but if you put in a drop of hatred you feel it actually propagates much more strongly. And you wonder: ‘Well is that because of the way that Twitter as a medium has been built?’”
Berners-Lee came up with the idea for the modern day internet while working for the European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN, in the 1980s. Back then, he called the technology “Mesh.” He gave it the name “World Wide Web” in 1990. He is currently a professor of computer science at Oxford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.