Social networking software

Social Networks Threaten Web, Pioneer Says

Founder of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has slammed social networks claiming they are "a threat to the web."

Photograph: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Berners-Lee believes Facebook and other social networking sites enourage users to enter their information, which is captured and then reused, but not shared with other websites.

"Large social-networking sites are walling off information posted by their users from the rest of the web," he said in the Scientific American journal.

Singling out Facebook, LinkedIn and Friendster, Berners-Lee added: "Your social-networking site becomes a central platform -- a closed silo of content, and one that does not give you full control over your information in it."

"The more this kind of architecture gains widespread use, the more the web becomes fragmented -- and the less we enjoy a single, universal information space."

He also slammed Apple and iTunes for being "centralized and walled off".

"You can access an iTunes link only using Apple's patented iTunes program," he said.

"You are no longer on the web. You are trapped in a single store, rather than being on the open marketplace. For all the store's wonderful features, its evolution is limited to what one company thinks up."

On the subject of net neutrality, Berners-Lee said it should cover both fixed internet lines and mobile broadband.

"It is... bizarre to imagine that my fundamental right to access the in

Artwork: Chip Taylor
formation source of my choice should apply when I am on my Wi-Fi-connected computer at home but not when I use my mobile phone," he said.

His comments come just days after culture minister Ed Vaizey suggested the UK have a "fast-lane" for internet access, with content providers and web users paying to ensure their access to the web is prioritised over other traffic.

Vaizey has since backtracked and claimed his comments are in line with the thoughts of Berners-Lee. However, Berners-Lee said: "There's no passage in [Vaizey's] speech where he says he's against net neutrality. We have discussed it on the phone. But I can't say yet that we're entirely in line."

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  • See also: Berners-Lee: Govt can't kill open data movement

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