Tim Berners-Lee has called for more action to be taken against technology firms, in a bid to make the internet a safer and fairer place.
The creator of the World Wide Web has said Facebook, Google and Twitter have become too dominant in the online world. In order to squash this power the scientist has called for more regulations to be put in place in order to tackle the increasing problem.
He has attacked the social media sites for promoting misinformation and questionable political advertising, whilst still exploiting people’s personal data. Berners-Lee said he wants to prevent the web from becoming ‘Weaponised at Scale’.
Berners-Lee has been a long standing advocate for there to be better technical standards for the web as basic human rights, and now expresses his opinions in an open letter on the 29th anniversary of his creation.
“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 said. “What was once a rich selection of blogs and websites has been compressed under the powerful weight of a few dominant platforms.”
The computer scientist believes there should be a new legal or regulatory framework implemented, which could help to reduce the power of big tech companies, which has increased as the concentration of power has fallen to a minute number of firms. Berners-Lee suggested forcing social media companies to give users more control over their data, an area which GDPR should move power with as well.
Berners-Lee’s concerns arose because of an increase in the amount of information and personal data that is controlled by big companies, in comparison to individuals and smaller companies.
In addition to vouching for a new regulatory framework, the scientist suggested in his open letter that policymakers and businesses need to improve access to the internet. This could be improved with community networks and public WiFi initiatives, as well as boosting digital skills.
“The web that many connected to years ago is not what new users will find today,” the letter says. “What was once a rich selection of blogs and websites has been compressed under the powerful weight of a few dominant platforms.
The letter from Berners-Lee is not the first stab at social media firms, after many months of pledging that the sites do more to both protect their users and remove unwanted data. Theresa May stepped up efforts to remove such content, with the Home Office developing technology to give a helping hand to this process. However, there is still a lot more to be done and a long way to go to regulate websites further and better than today.