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Sir Tim Berners-Lee Slams Tech Giants On Web's 29th Birthday

Sir Tim Berners-Lee Slams Tech Giants On Web's 29th Birthday

In a blog post marking the world wide web's 29th birthday, Sir Tim also suggested that the best way to stop this happening might be through regulation.

For the first time ever, half the world's population is online. More recently, the internet fueled the success of some of the world's largest tech companies-and, in effect, created their own share of problems like misinformation and the crisis of personal data security.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, net neutrality advocate and inventor of the world wide web, wrote in today's Guardian that technology companies may need a regulator to ease the stoking of social tensions.

"Two myths now limit our collective imagination: the myth that advertising is the only possible business model for online companies, and the myth that it's too late to change the way platforms operate", Berners-Lee writes in an open letter.

The social network, along with Google and Twitter, appeared before Congress to answer questions on the extent of Russian meddling in the 2016 United States election.

Although the companies are aware of the problems and have made efforts to fix them - developing systems to tackle fake news, bots and influence operations - they have been built to "maximise profit more than maximise social good".

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"There are few solutions to the problems of digital discourse that don't involve huge trade-offs-and those are not choices for Mark Zuckerberg alone to make".

Berners-Lee is concerned about the fact that a small "handful of platforms control which ideas and opinions are seen and shared".

Two myths now limit our collective imagination: the myth that advertising is the only possible business model for online companies, and the myth that it's too late to change the way platforms operate.

He also points out that we need to get away from the idea that advertising in the only possible business model, branding it a myth.

Google, parent company Alphabet, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Apple have been accused of exercising a near-strangle hold on internet users through their selection and promotion of web pages, products and apps on their platforms, which are used by billions of people worldwide.

Berners-Lee said people should challenge themselves to promote "greater ambitions" for the web, which may include emphasis on decentralisation and regulation for the largest firms. Currently, half of the world's population can not access the internet. And at the beginning of this year the UN Broadband Commission launched 2025 targets (ITU), including adopting the Alliance for Affordable Internet's threshold for affordability target, which says entry-level broadband services should be less than two percent of average monthly incomes. "If we do not invest seriously in closing this gap, the last billion will not be connected until 2042. That's an entire generation left behind", Berners-Lee warned.