Internet creator Tim Berners-Lee worried about disinformation on the web

September 15th, 2008 - 4:00 pm ICT by ANI  

London, September 15 (ANI): Internet creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee is worried the worldwide web is being used to spread disinformation.
Talking about the recent project undertaken by researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), who turned on the Large Hadron Collider for the first time, Berners-Lee said that he was particularly concerned about the use of the Internet to spread fears that flicking the switch on the LHC could create a Black Hole that could swallow up the Earth.
He also expressed worries over the spread of recent rumours that the MMR vaccine given to children in Britain was harmful.
Berners-Lee has helped created the World Wide Web Foundation that will vet websites, and certify whether they have been found to be trustworthy and a reliable source of information.
He said that that there needed to be new systems that would give websites a label for trustworthiness once they had been proved reliable sources.
“On the web the thinking of cults can spread very rapidly and suddenly a cult which was 12 people who had some deep personal issues suddenly find a formula which is very believable. A sort of conspiracy theory of sorts and which you can imagine spreading to thousands of people and being deeply damaging,” the BBC quoted him as saying.
After having a look at simple ways of branding websites at the World Wide Web consortium, Berners-Lee and his colleagues came to the conclusion that a whole variety of different mechanisms was needed.
Berners-Lee said that he wanted to help get the web to people who are cut off from it.
“I”m not a fan of giving a website a simple number like an IQ rating because like people they can vary in all kinds of different ways. So I”d be interested in different organisations labelling websites in different ways,” he said.
The Web Foundation will explore ways to make the web more mobile-phone friendly, which would increase its use in Africa and other poor parts of the world where there are few computers but plenty of handsets.
It will also look at how the benefits of the web can be taken to those who cannot read or write, as well as at concerns that the web has become less democratic, and its use is influenced too much by large corporations and vested interests.
“I think that question is very important and may be settled in the next few years. One of the things I always remain concerned about is that that medium remains neutral,” Berners-Lee said
“It’’s not just where I go to decide where to buy my shoes which is the commercial incentive - it’’s where I go to decide who I”m going to trust to vote.
“It’’s where I go maybe to decide what sort of religion I”m going to belong to or not belong to; it’’s where I go to decide what is actual scientific truth - what I”m actually going to go along with and what is bunkum,” he added. (ANI)

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