Tim Berners-Lee says tech giants like Google and Facebook may need to be broken up

Tim Berners-Lee is the recognized inventor of the “World Wide Web.”

Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee is the man who invented the World Wide Web way back in 1989. Now, Berners-Lee says tech giants such as Google and Facebook may need to be broken up. That is, unless someone can step up to compete with them head-to-head and reduce their influence over the internet.

There is no question that companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple all have a serious amount of power. With that power comes influence and control over a vast majority of people. Often times, companies with this much power that go unchecked can have a negative impact on society as a whole. This is why Berners-Lee is suggesting that breaking up these companies may need to happen.

“What naturally happens is you end up with one company dominating the field so through history there is no alternative to really coming in and breaking things up,” Berners-Lee, 63, said in an interview. “There is a danger of concentration.”

But he urged caution too, saying the speed of innovation in both technology and tastes could ultimately cut some of the biggest technology companies down to size.

“Before breaking them up, we should see whether they are not just disrupted by a small player beating them out of the market, but by the market shifting, by the interest going somewhere else,” Berners-Lee said.

Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Facebook have a combined market capitalization of $3.7 trillion, equal to Germany’s gross domestic product last year.

Berners-Lee expressed his disappointment over the current state of the internet as well as social media.

“I am disappointed with the current state of the Web,” he said. “We have lost the feeling of individual empowerment and to a certain extent also I think the optimism has cracked.”

“If you put a drop of love into Twitter it seems to decay but if you put in a drop of hatred you feel it actually propagates much more strongly. And you wonder: ‘Well is that because of the way that Twitter as a medium has been built?’”

While Berners-Lee does think that breaking up tech giants may have to happen, he doesn’t necessarily think it’s the first course of action but rather a last resort.