About half of the world’s population is now online, and nearly a quarter of a billion new users came online for the first time in 2017. Yet, a stubborn digital divide persists.
Those who suffer inequities in other aspects of life – including people with low incomes, those in rural communities, women and minorities – tend to be the last to connect. And, when they do, they face high costs and poor-quality access.
Without affordable, reliable and fast internet, economic development stalls. People are cut off from access to education, health and government services, quality content in their own language and conversations with family and friends.
A gap is also widening between those who feel safe online and those who don’t. Online hate speech and harassment is a serious problem, with women, younger people, LGBTQ+ communities and people of colour being impacted most frequently.
This is amplified by persistently low diversity within most technology companies (and open-source communities), which has inevitably led to software, algorithms and products that reflect the biases of their creators and that fail to consider the needs of marginalised users.
What can you do to build a more diverse web?
- If you see cyber violence and bullying online, record it and report it.
- Talk to your children about cyberbullying and encourage their teachers to do the same.
- Donate your old computers, laptops, and phones to local organisations or non-profits like Reconnect, Students Recycling Used Technology, or Interconnection, who refurbish and redistribute them to underserved communities.
- Tell your representatives that open and affordable access to the internet should be a policy priority.
- Support a resource like Wikipedia that drastically lowers the barriers to knowledge – or better yet, help build it. Wikipedia needs more – and more diverse – contributors.