Internet Pioneer Fights Online MisinformationDamien Moye
So thirty years ago, Sir Tim Berners-Lee gave a plan for a computer information management system. That system eventually became what we know today as the Internet. The IT support era was about to begin. But now, he finds himself in a new battle. Let’s see how this Internet pioneer fights online misinformation.
So Berners-Lee’s new letter of concern talks about three issues of misinformation. The first is malicious intent. This includes hacking, online bullying, sextortion, and promoting criminal behavior like terrorism. Then there is the second concern. Berners-Lee calls this, “…creating perverse incentives.”. This includes companies rewarding third-parties to publish misinformation. But the third is the grayest of them all. This is what he calls, “…unintended negative consequences”. You may not mean to harm someone. But the damage is already done.
But first, let me call to Berners-Lee’s optimist spirit. He says we should never give up on the Internet. However, he makes it clear there is a lot of work to do. He calls on laws to make the first concern tougher for the bad guys to do. For the second and third concerns, he calls for all of us in the IT service industry to consider new designs and patterns. Like most, he’s tired of the social division online and calls for us all to come together. Because all of us, governments, businesses and individuals need to come together to solve these problems.
I agree with Berners…somewhat. Look at his first concern. How many lives do malicious intent destroy? I think too many to count. So yes, I’m with him there. But the second, and especially the third, I don’t know. Because this is what could lead to censorship. What I mean is, if it offends somebody, then they can just take it down. That’s an assault on free speech. Yes, we do need to exercise responsibility and common sense. But I’m afraid where this could lead. They could call anything that offends anybody, “misinformation”. Censorship is even more dangerous than the bad content itself. So this is how this Internet pioneer fights online misinformation. I agree it’s a big problem. But what do we do about it?