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The Worldwide Web as We Know It May Be Ending

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Illustration of fiber-optic cables carrying data to and from the Internet.

Over the last year, the World Wide Web has started to look less worldwide.

Credit: Groman 123/Flickr

Threats of regulatory crackdowns on tech companies worldwide are expected to become more common, increasingly fragmenting the Internet.

A proposed law that would require it to pay publishers prompted Facebook, for instance, to temporarily stop showing links from news outlets to Australian users, and other users were unable to access content from Australian news outlets.

Experts say such actions work against the premise of the Internet being a tool for the free flow of information globally.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sinan Aral said, "If the eventual outcome ... is that we have social media platforms in every major country or market that are separate, then what we will have is an information ecosystem that is completely bifurcated or splintered across the globe. What that portends is a citizenry that has completely different sets of information about local events, about world events, and perhaps a very splintered worldview of reality."

From CNN
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