Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, is ‘seriously concerned’ it has fuelled anti-LGBT+ hatred

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the world wide web

Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has said he is “seriously concerned” about the way online discourse is fuelling hatred towards minorities.

In an open letter to mark the web’s 31st birthday on Thursday, Berners-Lee warned of a “dangerous trend” harming 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 LGBT+ communities and other marginalised groups – threaten that progress.”

Tim Berners-Lee says the internet must be safe for systematically excluded groups

He added: “Tackling online gender inequality will be a core priority for the Web Foundation through 2020 and beyond.

“We’ll forge new partnerships to campaign against online abuse and work with companies, governments, and civil society on innovative policy and product design.

“And we’ll work with [major companies] who have backed the Contract for the Web to ensure they make good on their commitments to make the internet available, empowering, and safe for everyone – particularly women and other systematically excluded groups.”

World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee speaks during the Web Summit 2018

World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee speaks during the Web Summit 2018 (Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

He continued: “The call for action is compelling and urgent. By answering it together, we can create a stronger, better web; one that empowers, fosters equality, and serves each and every one of us.”

Queer people are being forced offline by trolling and abuse.

In February, a study suggested queer people are being forced off social media in large numbers by trolling and online abuse.

LGBT+ anti-violence charity Galop found that two in five LGBT+ people who faced abuse online are now using social media less – while one in five either removed LGBT+ information or deleted their accounts altogether.

Nick Antjoule, head of hate crime services at Galop said: “Despite progress on LGBT+ rights, online platforms remain hostile environments for many LGBT+ people. This report offers a sobering reminder of the harms caused by online hate.

“It targets individuals, poisons social discourse and limits opportunities to live open and fulfilled lives.”