The father of the web has told Reuters that the internet’s biggest tech giants, Facebook and Google, may have to be broken up because of their dominance–if other challengers don’t rise up to offer true competition, or if users don’t start abandoning the services. In the interview, Berners-Lee said:
“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. There is a danger of concentration.”
“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.”
And Berners-Lee also revealed that scandals like Facebook-Cambridge Analytica were the tipping point for many people, including himself, of the optimistic view they once held about the power of the internet as a force for good:
“I am disappointed with the current state of the web. We have lost the feeling of individual empowerment and to a certain extent also I think the optimism has cracked.”
He also said social media is a tool to propagate hate:
“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?'”
As for Berners-Lee, he does see a solution to the current internet that is dominated by just a few tech giants. As he told Fast Company, he has radical new plans to upend the World Wide Web.