Mark Zuckerberg finally reared his head yesterday to address the growing uproar over the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal. He has promised an investigation of all apps that had access to large amounts of information before the platform was changed in 2014, and has said he’ll conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity. We’ll see whether it’s enough save the social network from what looks like a major crisis.
Now living legend Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web in 1989, has spoken out about the scandal – as well as giving us internet users some really good advice about how to protect our privacy online.
Writing on Twitter, Berners-Lee said: “This is a serious moment for the web’s future. But I want us to remain hopeful. The problems we see today are bugs in the system. Bugs can cause damage, but bugs are created by people, and can be fixed by people.
“I can imagine Mark Zuckerberg is devastated that his creation has been abused and misused. (Some days I have the same feeling #justsaying). I would say to him: You can fix it. It won’t be easy but if companies work with governments, activists, academics and web users we can make sure platforms serve humanity.”
Speaking about how to protect ourselves online, he added: “General rules for us all: Any data about me, wherever it is, is mine and mine alone to control. If you are given the right to use data for one purpose, use it for that purpose alone.
“My message to all web users today is this: I may have invented the web, but you make it what it is. And it’s up to all of us to build a web that reflects our hopes & fulfils our dreams more than it magnifies our fears & deepens our divisions.
“What can web users do? Get involved. Care about your data. It belongs to you. If we each take a little of the time we spend using the web to fight for the web, I think we’ll be ok. Tell companies and your government representatives that your data and the web matter.”
He concluded: “And to every digital rights organisation large and small, to every journalist investigating the impact of data and the web on our world - thank you. Keep fighting for the web we want. The web will not realise its potential without you. #oneweb #foreveryone”
This message from Berners-Lee comes just days after he called for more regulation of giant internet companies.
In an open letter to mark the 29th anniversary of his invention, he said: “In recent years, we’ve seen conspiracy theories trend on social media platforms, fake Twitter and Facebook accounts stoke social tensions, external actors interfere in elections, and criminals steal troves of personal data.”
He argued that companies like Facebook have been built to “maximise profit more than maximise social good”.
“A legal or regulatory framework that accounts for social objectives may help ease those tensions,” he said.
I think it’s fair to say that hen the actual inventor of the Web speaks, we should *all* listen.