Many of us spend much of our work hours and downtime on the internet. But what do you really know about it?
Researchers at Mozilla, the company that makes the open source web browser Firefox, has assembled its first ever Internet Health Report. The study identified five central components of the web -- privacy and security, openness, digital inclusion, web literacy and decentralization -- and took a deep dive to assess where our usage of the internet is heading and what it means for overall user wellbeing. The answer isn’t as definitive as you might think.
“There are some straightforward indicators to watch,” the researchers wrote in an overview of the findings. "Things are getting a bit better in areas like: access,affordability and encryption. And they are getting worse in: censorship, online harassment and energy use. Simple indicators miss the complexity that comes with global ecosystems like the internet."
A significant part of that ecosystem, Facebook, is being scrutinized this week as CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies on Capitol Hill about the Cambridge Analytica user data scandal. In conversation with PCMag, Mozilla Executive Director Mark Surman explained why this situation in particular is so damning for the social media giant.
"Cambridge Analytics took all that data, put it in a database, and connected it to a bunch of other data sets. Then they sold that off as a way to target advertising,” Surman said. "It is not so much a data leak so much as it is a nuclear waste spill.”
Here are some intriguing statistics from the Mozilla report for any entrepreneur that has a goal of creating a global presence to keep in mind.
Chrome has 64.7 percent of the desktop web browser market share and 47.8 percent of the mobile web browser market share. For search, 95 percent of mobile users and 87.1 percent of desktop users opt for Google.
Check that electric bill
The study authors noted that some researchers are predicting that by 2025, it is possible that global tech companies will have created more carbon emissions than most countries, with the exception of China, India and the United States.
Net neutrality abroad
While the U.S. recently repealed net neutrality protections that were put in place in 2015, these are the countries that do have net neutrality protections on the books: Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, India, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, The U.K., Ireland, Tunisia, Spain, Italy, Portugal, France, Turkey, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
The researchers cited a study conducted by screen time tracking app Moment and the Center for Humane Technology about the apps that affect people’s moods the most. The apps that induced the most happiness were Sonos, Audible, Headspace and Sleep Cycle. The ones that drove the most unhappiness were Facebook, Instagram, Telegram and Reddit.
Safety and privacy
Eighty-one of the 100 most visited sites on the web now use HTTPS, which features encryption. But some of the biggest tech companies get a less than stellar grade when it comes to their privacy policies and how they handle user data. Google, for example, is at the top of the list and only got a 65 percent from Ranking Digital Rights’Corporate Accountability Index.
Connected, or not
There is a wide amount of disparity when it comes to who has access to the internet. Eighty percent of people in Europe have internet access, while only 20 percent of people in Africa have a connection. In every country except for the U.S., more men than women are online.
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