Katrina Brooker:

The power of the Web wasn’t taken or stolen. We, collectively, by the billions, gave it away with every signed user agreement and intimate moment shared with technology. Facebook, Google, and Amazon now monopolize almost everything that happens online, from what we buy to the news we read to who we like. Along with a handful of powerful government agencies, they are able to monitor, manipulate, and spy in once unimaginable ways. Shortly after the 2016 election, Berners-Lee felt something had to change, and began methodically attempting to hack his creation. Last fall, the World Wide Web Foundation funded research to examine how Facebook’s algorithms control the news and information users receive. “Looking at the ways algorithms are feeding people news and looking at accountability for the algorithms—all of that is really important for the open Web,” he explained. By understanding these dangers, he hopes, we can collectively stop being deceived by the machine just as half the earth’s population is on board. “Crossing 50 percent is going to be a moment to pause and think,” says Berners-Lee, referring to the coming milestone. As billions more connect to the Web, he feels an increasing urgency to resolve its problems. For him this is about not just those already online but also the billions still unconnected. How much weaker and more marginalized will they become as the rest of the world leaves them behind