Sir Tim Berners Lee, The Founder Of The Web, Says That The Web Is No Place For Women. He Has A Point
You know if I were to ask a bunch of women whether they had been harassed in some way online, I have a feeling at least a bunch of them women would say yes. I had a friend in college who went through online sexual harassment. It got so bad after a while that she had to close all her social media accounts. Needless to say, she was terrified and though she filed a complaint with the cyber cell, he was never caught.
After knowing the terrible ordeal she went through, it made me super conscious of the things I put online. If I am being honest, it scared me so much that I stopped posting altogether for a while. Think about it, when it comes to cyber harassment most of the time, you don’t know who it is on the other side of that screen. It could be just about anyone and it is that anonymity that makes it that much more terrifying.
So, if someone were to tell me that the internet is not a safe place for women I would blindly agree. But when it comes from the founder of the worldwide web itself- Tim Berners Lee, you know there no scope for denial.
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The #WebWeWant is safe and empowering for everyone.
But thanks to the growing crisis of online abuse and discrimination against women and girls, that’s not the web we have.
2020 must be the year we tackle this crisis and make the web work for women.https://t.co/zB1O5iYVgY
— Tim Berners-Lee (@timberners_lee) March 12, 2020
Tim Berners Lee, who created the web in 1989 said that was “seriously concerned” about its impact on gender-based abuse. In an open letter to mark its 31st anniversary mentioned that the “the web is not working for women and girls.”
He said, “The world has made important progress on gender equality thanks to the unceasing drive of committed champions everywhere, but I am seriously concerned that online harms facing women and girls — especially those of colour, from LGBTQ+ communities and other minority groups — threaten that progress.”
He further added “This should concern us all. And at times like now, when coronavirus is closing offices and schools, the web becomes the only way we can continue to work, teach our children and get vital health information to keep ourselves safe.”
Tim goes on to talk about how this should concern each one of us since women’s rights are the rights of all humans and they are essential if we want a healthy society. One that is without poverty and disease and has significant growth in the fields of education and economics.
He then goes on to outline three areas that are particularly worrying. The first, he says is the fact that compared to men, a majority of women still do not have access to the internet, mainly because they can’t afford it. This gap is what strengthens the existing inequality and prevents millions of women from using the internet to learn and make their voices heard.
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World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee says "the web is not working for women and girls" https://t.co/pmSqaGxgFp
— The Independent (@Independent) March 12, 2020
The second area that was concerning, Tim highlights was for women who are online. He said the web is “simply not safe enough”. Research conducted by the Web Foundation showed that more than half the women who were surveyed had experienced cyber harassment. This also included sexual harassment, being sent obscene messages and had their private images shared without consent. 84% of the women believe that the problem is getting worse and that is seriously saying something.
He says, “Such abuse forces women out of jobs and causes girls to skip school, it damages relationships and leads to tremendous distress. Relentless harassment silences women and deprives the world of their opinions and ideas, with female journalists and politicians pushed off social media and bullied out of office.”
The third area he mentions consists of all the discrimination against women that remains veiled. This includes the fact that artificial intelligence that is being developed based on the values of today’s society. It is being programmed to make the world a better place, but often use algorithms that are a mirror reflection of our society which means that the inequalities are also included. Which makes it worse.
These are the three prime and urgent areas that need to be worked on if we want to make the internet a safer and better place for women. Though various companies and governments are trying to make things better, according to Tim they are doing too little and doing it too slow.
In the conclusion of the letter, Tim promises that the Web Foundation will make online gender inequality a top priority. They will continue to try to close the gender gap and will advocate all woman’s rights.
We hope their contributions make even a slight difference in making the web a safer place for women to be.