Inventor of the Internet: Twitter Only Amplifies the Emotionally Charged

We already know that Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Internet, is not a big fan of social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. It turns out, though, that he isn’t a big fan of Twitter either. Indeed, he argues that Twitter does little to create a civil debate and instead just amplifies the most extreme positions and messages.

Berners-Lee’s Challenge to the Internet: Build a Better Retweet System for Civil Discourse

Berners-Lee, who has more than 44,000 followers on Twitter and only tweets every now and then, spoke at a W3C meeting in Oxford today and, according to PCPro, challenged his listeners to “change the retweet system, so that Twitter will end up gathering a body of reasoned debate?”

Today, what we see on Twitter is people who are “just foaming at the mouth,” Berners-Lee said. While looking at the discussions about net neutrality on the service, he noticed that it was “a medium which was only amplifying the emotionally charged.” Reasonable contributions were almost never retweeted, while the most extreme positions were greatly amplified by a multitude of retweets.

One could argue that calling for a civil discourse is always easy, though. Creating a framework where two opposing sides can meet and discuss a topic reasonably probably has more to do with human psychology than technology, but his challenge is definitely worth thinking about.

Building a Web that Introduces Us to New People

During his talk, Berners-Lee also challenged the attendees to reinvent today’s social networks with a stronger focus on meeting new people. “How,” he asked, “ do we build the web so that every now and then it introduces us to people who are not friends of friends?”