The inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, recently expressed concerns over tech giants’ misuse of the internet. Facebook and Google’s dominance over the Web has allowed them to come away from security breaches largely unscathed, and may need to be taken down a few notches in order to avoid such scandals, according to Reuters.
“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, a London-born computer scientist who became Father of the Web in 1989. “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.”
Tech giants have gained more power in the market than many soveriegn states. The combined market capitalization of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Facebook matched Germany’s gross domestic product of $3.7 million in the previous year.
Berners-Lee was particularly disheartened by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which Facebook allowed the data 87 million users to be breached and used to affect the 2016 presidential election. “I am disappointed with the current state of the Web.” he said. “We have lost the feeling of individual empowerment and to a certain extent also I think the optimism has cracked.”
Executives of major tech companies have had to defend and apologize for their failed security practices by testifying in front of Congress. Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook, apologized following the Cambridge Analytica scandal and promised to update the site’s security policies in order to better protect users. Still, Facebook has run into other security breaches since.
Berners-Lee is also concerned about the culture of hate growing on such social media sites: “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?’”