Things to know about the World Wide Web

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Tim Berners-Lee on Tuesday joined a celebration of the Web and reminisced about his invention at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, starting with a proposal published on March 12, 1989. Julia Lyubova has more.

Berners-Lee, the English software engineer who submitted his proposal for what would evolve into the World Wide Web 30 years ago Tuesday, said in a letter that his invention no longer serves its true goal to promote the free exchange of information around the globe. And the rest as they say, is history.

"Governments and large companies realise that there are things they need to do to fix the web and that they need to be good responsible participants", he said.

The web also fuels the risky spread of misinformation; search engine optimization tactics can push fake news stories to the top of Google search results, feeding internet users with falsities.

Berners-Lee said the web has created opportunity, made lives easier and given the marginalized a voice, but "it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crime easier to commit". This is the research center where Berners-Lee was working as a computer engineer when he developed his ideas for the World Wide Web.

Now, 30 years later, Lee can't hold back the disappointment in seeing the world wide web being used for ill intentions.

Deliberate, malicious intent, such as state-sponsored hacking and attacks, criminal behavior, and online harassment.

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And finally he worries about the "unintended negative consequences of benevolent design, such as the outraged and polarised tone and quality of online discourse".

Under this contract, governments are called on to take steps to make sure all citizens can connect to the internet and that individual privacy is respected. "And they have a responsibility to protect people's rights and freedoms online", he said.

Late a year ago, a key threshold was crossed - roughly half the world has gotten online.

In his letter, Sir Tim said it would be "defeatist and unimaginative" to assume that the web could not be changed for the better given how far it has come in its first 30 years.

Berners-Lee has since become a sort of father figure for the internet community, been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and named as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century by Time magazine.

He urged governments, companies and citizens to "ensure the other half (of the world) are not left behind offline, and that everyone contributes to a web that drives equality, opportunity and creativity".

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