Mar 12, 2024 - Axios Events

Axios House at SXSW 2024: Reimagining the Internet Experience

founder & CEO of Block Party Tracy Chou on stage with Hope King at Axios House SXSW 2024

Founder & CEO of Block Party Tracy Chou on in conversation with Hope King at Axios House SXSW 2024. Photo credit: Cori Baker on behalf of Axios

The increasing linkage of the internet to people's everyday lives has opened up a world where online data is more vulnerable. Leaders in technology, ethics and privacy spoke about the issues and some of tactics that may help promote a reformed internet experience at Axios House at SXSW in Austin, TX.

Big tech companies are not prioritizing privacy of consumers because there's a lack of incentives for them to do so, according to founder & CEO of Block Party Tracy Chou.

  • "Nobody is getting promoted for building a better settings page," she said.
  • Companies are prioritizing increasing ad revenue rather than increasing privacy standards, according to Chou.

Zoom in: Some trust and safety experts in companies want regulation that will put a "dollar amount on the cost of noncompliance or a cost on causing these harms" in order to justify the efforts, says Chou.

  • Chou added that it is challenging to only argue the moral cause of privacy.

Additionally, war in the age of the internet opens up new ways to attack and combat enemies, which is exactly what was seen with the Russia and Ukraine war.

What they're saying: Matthew Prince, co-founder & CEO of Cloudflare, was involved in helping prep the Ukraine government in the days and months leading up to Russia's attack in 2022. He says Ukrainian President Zelensky was "good" at using the internet to show the story of Ukraine, "to bring what feels and sometimes like a very distant war, very much into our lives."

  • He says that if Ukraine would've been unable to share their story on the internet and gain support from all over the world, he doesn't know if they would've still been an independent country today.

However, Prince says the internet has been disruptive to traditional sources of power, like family, government, education, religion and the media.

  • He says these traditional sources of power are now trying to put the internet "back in a box" and that people need to be fighting for the internet.
  • And while Prince admits that there are issues with the internet that should be addressed, he still views the internet as a "miracle."

Sponsored content:

In a View From the Top sponsored conversation, Frank H. McCourt, Jr., founder of Project Liberty and author of OUR BIGGEST FIGHT: Reclaiming Liberty, Humanity, and Dignity in the Digital Age, spoke about how the internet is currently being used is "fundamentally broken."

  • "This is the biggest issue we have in our lives at this moment. Not that there aren't other big issues, but we can't solve the other big issues if we can't even have a conversation, if we can't even agree on facts, if we're destroying the minds and the attitudes and the confidence of the next generation. So fix the tech, then we have a chance to fix the problem."

Thank you to Project Liberty for sponsoring this event.

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