| LONDON, April 10
LONDON, April 10 The World Wide Web needs a
complete rethink to prevent spying and the spread of "nasty,
mean ideas" on social media websites, its inventor, Tim
Berners-Lee, said on Monday.
Berners-Lee, a London-born computer scientist who invented
the Web as a platform on top of the internet in 1989, said his
intention in building it had been for the public to "do good
stuff" and share ideas among each other, as was the case with
websites such as Wikipedia.
Instead, negative ideas were proliferating on social media
sites in particular, he said, while privacy was also being
compromised by online spying.
"We need to rethink the way we build society on top of these
web pages," he told the Innovate Finance global fintech summit
"How come nasty, mean ideas, seem to have travelled more
prevalently than constructive ideas on Twitter sometimes? Is
that the way it has been designed? Could Twitter be tweaked?"
Social media has become active in polarised political
campaigns such as the U.S. presidential elections and Britain's
referendum on membership of the European Union last year.
There have also been instances of public figures being
abused online, often by robots programmed to send out negative
The conclusion was that a "complete change of strategy" was
needed. Facebook and Twitter were already
rethinking approaches, he said.
Berners-Lee, who has previously criticised state-sponsored
eavesdropping as well as censorship, said he had given humanity
"an open internet to play with" in the hope that they would use
it in a positive manner.
"We have tried to keep it open, we kept it royalty-free. We
have kept it open in the sense of no censorship. On a good day,
in a good country, we keep it free of spying."
There was a need to analyse the effects networks have on
society, Berners-Lee said.
"We actually have to not leave people to make whatever
social networks they like."
Last week he told the Guardian newspaper that U.S. President
Trump administration’s decision to allow internet service
providers to sign away their customers' privacy and sell
customers' browsing habits was "disgusting", after he won the
prestigious Association for Computing Machinery’s AM Turing
Despite the web being world-wide, with the possibility of
school children from India, China and Syria interacting with
each other, Berners-Lee said, people were broadly parochial,
choosing to communicate with others like themselves.
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)