With internet innovation comes huge responsibility – Blaise Tapp

Last week marked a key anniversary in the history of the modern world. It is 30 years since the idea for the world wide web was first conceived.

Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 4:58 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd March 2019, 10:50 am

The man responsible for this generation defining innovation is Sir Tim Berners-Lee and he is somebody who everybody should be personally thanking for the difference he has made to our lives.

Sir Tim is rightly lauded for the genius of his achievements but he is also acutely aware of the unintended consequences of his efforts.

He accepts that as well as giving ‘marginalised groups a voice’ and generally making our lives easier, the web had also enabled the ‘spread of hatred’ and made ‘all sorts of crime easier to commit’. Sir Tim is working on a solution to the problem of companies using our precious data how they please.

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The web has long been described as a digital Wild West and, although there is some regulation, it does appear that anything goes. Last week the world bore witness to the horrors of the Christchurch terror attacks, which were broadcast on social media by the alleged perpetrator.

If that was not horrific enough, thousands upon thousands of social media users thought it perfectly okay to share footage of the murders on their timelines.

While these platforms did remove this footage, it was still reasonably easy to find later in the day of the attacks.

Big tech companies are hives of innovation but can only play catch up in the aftermath of such horrors.

It does not make sense that people are allowed to peddle their deeply unpleasant thoughts with little consequence.

There was a time when sending a poison pen letter required a certain amount of effort to pull off, which is why they weren’t especially common, but these days online trolls can spread their bile in a matter of seconds.

When Sir Tim first drew up his first plans for a network which would be used to share ideas, he could not have envisaged how this concept would evolve and, in some cases, be abused.

It is absolutely right that we celebrate the web and the difference it has made but we all have a duty to use more responsibly than we do.