Why I signed the Contract For The Web

Last week, Sir Tim Berners-Lee asked us to sign the Contract For The Web. An agreement created to ensure that everyone’s experience of the internet is positive, gives knowledge, opens doors, minds and encourages helpful debate. Why wouldn’t I sign to show my support?

Why is the contract needed at all?

The Web was designed to bring people together and make knowledge freely available. It has changed the world for good and improved the lives of billions. Yet, many people are still unable to access its benefits and, for others, the Web comes with too many unacceptable costs.

contractfortheweb.org

With this in mind, I want to share just a few recent issues with the way in which we are using this tool from across the globe.

#FakeNews & it’s monetisation

We are once again in an election situation and, once again social media has been pulled up on it’s proliferation and monetisation of ‘fake news’.

On 30th October, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey announced that Twitter would no longer be allowing political advertising on the platform. Just in case you haven’t seen it, here’s his thread explaining why…

It’s not just in the UK. The proliferation of ‘fake news’ and a higher rate of mistrust in expert opinion have lead to dramatic change across the geo-political landscape.

Will you stand up against Fake News?

Trolling

Trolling has been an unfortunate possibility for many using social media, specifically the more open platforms like Twitter for some time with many high profile accounts being targeted. James Blunt has been celebrated for his humorous response to his trolls but, for many trolling can have a real and severe effect.

Recent research from Social CEOs and ACEVO has shown that many, specifically female CEOs in the charity sector have been effected by trolls. With 11% saying that trolling had a major impact on their charity.

It is not however the sole burden of the influential. Trolling or Online Bullying is seriously effecting young people. A recent investigation by the charity Young Minds reported that 39% of young people reported having personal experience of online bullying in their lifetime, in contrast to 49% who reported experience of off-line bullying.

What will you do to help counter trolling?

Accessibility

The internet was designed to be used by all. It has become the tool through which many of us complete our shopping, read the news, find information about services, and for many it is the only place to get support from your electricity supplier. What about those of us who struggling with reading, cognition, controlling their hands or seeing?

In a recent survey from Scope it was shown that accessibility is a huge issue for many. Many surveyed have experienced difficulties in getting basic information from public service websites and in the case of the retail space 50% who experienced problems buying goods or services through a website or app ended up not buying the product.

What will you do to help improve accessibility?

The web doesn’t connect machines, it connects people.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

The Echo Chamber

Before I continue, I must add that I do believe in the potential good of Social Media, however, I also believe that we must all be wary of the echo chamber effect.

Before I continue, I must add that I do believe in the potential good of Social Media, however, I also believe that we must all be wary of the echo chamber effect.

For me this was highlighted most dramatically in the result of the UK’s referendum on Brexit. In my Echo Chamber, my connections believed in the EU and were adamant of their Remain stance. It was on the morning of the 24 June 2016 a huge shock to wake to the news that not everyone else shared this view. Here I must add that I know the result was close and that many feel it was either unlawful or at least skewed – it is not this point that I want to make. I want to share with you the awareness that this result gave. It became obvious that I must attempt to make connections with people who have differing views to my own. To engage in debate and conversation, even if I don’t agree with the stand point, in my opinion is the foundation to a society that works.

Will you attempt to break out of your digital echo chamber?

The web is more a social creation than a technical one. I designed it for a social effect – to help people work together – and not as a technical toy.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

What does the contract include?

Here’s a quick Twitter Thread that gives an overview….