The web hasn’t achieved its potential to benefit humanity through sharing knowledge; instead it has become a forum for bullies, liars and trivia.
Back in 2017, Tim Berners-Lee the inventor of the world wide web, said
“One of the problems with climate change is getting people to realise it was anthropogenic – created by people. It’s the same problem with social networks – they are manmade. If they are not serving humanity, they can and should be changed.”
Since President Trump invented the term “fake news”, my friends and I have had several conversations about social media. The majority view is that social media is full of ads, click-bait, gossip, trivia, propaganda and downright lies. There’s a belief that social media provides an environment in which cowards and bullies flourish. Out of protest and despair, many people I know have stopped using some social media platforms. However, this exacerbates the problem: if people who value the truth withdraw from the social media environment, then liars and bullies will have a greater share-of-voice. To fix the problem, the truth-seekers among us must stay involved and be prepared to engage in debate with those who use social media for bad ends.
In November 2019 Berners-Lee announced the launch of the Contract for the Web https://contractfortheweb.org/ a set of nine principles for governments, organisations and individuals “to make sure our online world is safe, empowering and genuinely for everyone”. Principle 9 calls on individuals to
“Fight for the Web…now and in the future by being active citizens of the Web”.
So please, let’s all do our bit and stay involved in social media: stand up for truth, call-out lies and misinformation, challenge, debate and ultimately we will win more control and voice from those who fail to act in the interests of humanity.
The Contract for the Web is the first-ever global plan of action to make our online world safe and empowering for everyone. Communication Counts NZ backs the Contract for the Web because we believe in the value of truth and think those who use the Web against the interests of humanity should be challenged.
The web is one of the most powerful tools we’ve ever had to transform our lives for the better — But never before has its power for good been more under threat. Online scams cost users millions. Cyber bullying is on the rise. Some foreign states use disinformation to undermine democracy.
We must take action to fight for the #WebWeWant.
Suzanne Wolton is a professional director, visionary strategist, coach, hypnotherapist specialising in business and public speaking, and a managing director of Communication Counts NZ.
To contact Suzanne, email firstname.lastname@example.org