The founder of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, says that tech giants will need to be broken up in order to protect humanity. Because so many people depend on Facebook and Google for information, controlling the dissemination of that information has become top priority for governments, corporations, industries, advertisers, special interests, and political agendas.
Facebook has become so powerful; they now dictate the news and information that people can see through their Facebook news feeds. Using algorithms, status quo fact-checkers, and human interference, Facebook targets and blacklists certain keywords and topics that they consider “spam” or “Russian bots.” Wiping out hundreds of alternative media accounts and pages, Facebook has made it clear that they have ultimate control over the official narrative on important topics. Facebook justifies their censorship by saying they are protecting the public from “hate speech,” “foreign meddling in elections” and “fake news.” Ironically, Facebook’s attempt to control information has allowed mainstream fake news a platform to appear legitimate. By censoring certain people with different viewpoints, Facebook’s seething hate for the truth bleeds through. By limiting exposure to independent news channels, Facebook is financially assaulting grassroots organizations. Facebook’s censorship over political concepts has made Facebook the greatest offender when it comes to meddling in American democracy and elections.
Google has become so powerful that they design algorithms that bury the search results that political and industry agendas don’t want people to know about. Because Google is working with China to rollout new services that comply with China’s censorship demands, they have unmasked their true intentions. Google is unfairly blacklisting independent sites and promoting search results that favor certain mainstream organizations and schools of thought.
The inventor of the World Wide Web hopes that “changes in taste” will reduce big tech’s clout. A handful of technology companies have more financial and coercive influence than some dictatorships. Tim Berners-Lee expressed his disdain for the current state of the internet, bemoaning the loss of privacy and how data is used to track people, build psychological profiles on people, influence elections and coerce people into buying things.
“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,” Berners-Lee, said in a pre-speech interview at the Mozilla Festival 2018 in London, England. “There is a danger of concentration.”
Berners-Lee said that before regulators try to break up the big tech companies, “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,” However, this does not excuse Facebook and Google’s censorship actions, which will go unchecked, if nothing is done to stop them. Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft have $3.7 trillion in combined market capitalization. Even if there was a major shift in the market, Big Tech has made enough to do whatever they want for decades to come.
Berners-Lee, now a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Oxford, said he was disappointed when the news broke about Cambridge Analytica taking the personal data of 87 million Facebook users and using it for political gain. “We have lost the feeling of individual empowerment and to a certain extent also I think the optimism has cracked,” he said, expressing disappointment with the current state of the web. He remains optimistic, though, believing that people will get tired of propagating hate on social media and will strive for innovation in how they communicate online. For more on this topic, visit Censorship.News.