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The good, the bad, and the ugly side of the Internet

By Jean-Claude Elias - Jun 27,2019 - Last updated at Jun 27,2019

Recent criticism of social networking is clearly on the increase. And it is being heard from not just journalists, government officials and academics, but also from some of the most authoritative people on the web, including its father Tim Berners Lee. Add to that the admission by the founder of the largest, most widely used social network of them all, Facebook, who recently recognised that certain aspects of the extremely popular media were to be adjusted, fine-tuned, so as to better protect privacy, to fight misuse, abuse, and so forth.

However imperfect Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, Tumblr, Viber, Snapchat or Pinterest may be, they have literally changed the way people share and enjoy personal, non-business communication. Billions of postings and messages are exchanged every day. A recent article on makeawebsitehub.com lists not less than 65 social networks. Some are used not just as social media but in a wider scope, including business and politics, like for instance WhatsApp and Twitter. US president Trump’s famous Tweets are good illustration of such use.

And then there is the dark web. Two days ago the French newspaper Le Figaro reported that a large-scale security operation had allowed the dismantling of a big platform referred to as Deep Web-Market that was selling weapons of all kinds — including heavy, military grade arms — as well as narcotics, and forged identity documents. 

So it is agreed, there is a bad, dark side of the Internet. Everybody knew it. What is new is the admission by the web authorities of the size, of the impact of the phenomenon, and that something was to be done about it. However, given the inherent sprawling structure of the Internet, its gigantic size, and the fact that the freedom of the populations using it is to be taken into consideration, it is unlikely that a radical, fair solution can be found in the near future.

Despite such rather sad news, the good news about the Internet prevail, and by far.

The dark web and social networks misuse should not make us forget all the good things we find on the network. Besides, the Internet is not just about social networking! There is a mile long list of online applications that we just cannot imagine living without anymore and that cover virtually everything from online shopping, banking, airline reservation, tax declaration, utility bills payment, personal cloud storage, e-mail, and where there is nothing “bad, ugly”, but mainly “good”.

Demonising the Internet in a global manner, without nuance or distinction, would be unfair and wrong. Especially that the good applications and websites largely tip the scale in their favour. This is true even inside a specific social network such as Facebook. How many people have been reunited with their friends, how many get daily, instant news of their relatives at the other end of the world, how many share pleasant news and photos thanks to Facebook? How many elderly, sometime lonely people find a friend, a nice way to entertain themselves with Facebook? Certainly much more than there is any misuse of it.

It has been said times and again before, and it is good to be reminded of it now that there is a trend among famous and important people to blame the web: It is like life itself, like going out in the street or to your workplace, you must learn to accept and to live with the good and the bad. Luckily on the web we have more of the first.

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