Introduction

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 19, Universal Declaration of Human Rights - December 10, 1948

It took centuries for human beings to gain the fundamental right to express their beliefs without fearing repression or imprisonment.

This principle has been used, protected, quoted in court, distorted, misinterpreted, manipulated, attacked, destabilized, strengthened, and rescued time and time again. The controversy around Freedom of Speech hasn't dwindled, but tools to maintain the term's integrity have evolved.

Less than 30 years ago, the Internet transformed our lives. Suddenly, all populations were interwoven—villages, cities, countries, even continents could connect. Information was ubiquitous, and Internet users had access to modes of communication that hadn't yet existed. They could interact across the globe, and so could organize, lobby, and oppose accordingly. That is, web users acquired an unprecedented power to stand against centralized authorities.

It seems that Internet users, however, have yet to fully exploit the opportunities they have been granted by the advent of the World Wide Web.

Here’s why:

Information is all over the place.

The web as we know it today is brimming with content. The challenge no longer lies in finding information, but rather in finding the right information.

Users have to browse through umpteen comments, unsubstantiated news, questions, opinions, reviews, forums, surveys, specialized websites, and social networks. This all before they are able to find what they are looking for. At such a rate, users generally end up more confused than when they began searching and might as well have skipped the process entirely.

Communication flows one way.

While they exist to some extent, comments sections and chat boxes are not particularly common on most websites. There exist a few exceptions to this rule, including instances in which big players like Amazon, Google, and Facebook put review sections in place. Still, the vast majority of web page owners display solely the information they'd like you to see. Oftentimes, you have no choice but to passively consume the content provided to you.

Peer-to-peer contact is another Internet communication challenge. Most of the time, unless a website owner provides a built-in forum (a rare occurrence), there are limited opportunities to interact directly with other users. While they may try to connect via Facebook groups or alternative social media platforms if and when available, this search requires additional work and most users are not willing to go the extra mile.

Qualitative content is not fairly rewarded.

Today, most profits made from advertisements on forums, social media, and other platforms are granted to the website owner. We argue that the process should prove more equitable: profits should be shared between all users who create quality content.