30 years after his research laid the groundwork for the development of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee is not happy with the current state of the internet. Speaking at a Washington Post event marking the 30th anniversary of his creation earlier this year, he complained that the internet has been “hijacked by crooks”, referring to hate speech, privacy issues and the malicious spreading of false information.
Berners-Lee’s observations are in line with the assessment of Freedom House, an NGO advocating freedom and democracy around the world, whose latest Freedom on the Net report concludes that "what was once a liberating technology has become a conduit for surveillance and electoral manipulation." The report is especially critical of the role that social media has lately come to play in the political landscape, finding that platforms such as Facebook and Twitter "have provided an extremely useful and inexpensive platform for malign influence operations by foreign and domestic actors alike."
The following chart, based on Freedom House’s findings, shows a world map of internet freedom, categorizing countries with respect to obstacles to internet access, limits on online content and violations of user rights. According to the report, China was the worst abuser of internet freedom for the fourth year running as "censorship and surveillance were pushed to unprecedented extremes."