Five Things That Will Happen To The Internet In 2021


The internet has been In most people’s homes for a little over twenty years now, and during that time, it’s changed and evolved a lot. Those of us who’ve been around since the start remember a time before Facebook, and even a time before MySpace and social media in general. We remember when people used to meet on chatrooms and bulletin boards, and everybody had a badly-designed personal homepage on Angelfire. Some of those relics are still online today, but the internet has moved on as a whole. It’s sleeker and more user-friendly in many ways, but it’s also both more bloated and more regulated than it used to be.

Now we’re living in the 2020s, we’ve arrived at the age of the app. Every major website has an app, and we’re more likely to use those apps through our phones than we are through our desktops. The internet is becoming more mobile-orientated and more agile. It’s also becoming more security conscious. The average internet user is a little savvier about how their data is obtained and distributed than they were ten years ago, and that’s creating changes in the way we use the world’s greatest communication tool.

We’re in a confident mood today, and while we’re in this confident mood, we’re going to make some bold predictions about things we expect to see change online during the next twelve months.

A Move Away From Social Media

Facebook and platforms like it seemed like a great idea a decade ago. You could reconnect with long-lost friends and family, keep everyone up to date with your news, and find out how all the people you care about were doing. We didn’t know it at the time, but all that personal data we happily uploaded – including our pictures – was going straight into the hands of advertisers. In some cases, it’s got into the hands of people we never authorized to access it. We view social media with far more suspicion than we did as recently as two years ago, and that’s causing people to re-assess their relationship with the big social media companies. Facebook is losing millions of users each quarter, and we expect that to continue well into 2021.

A Greater Focus On Touchscreen

Keyboards might be a thing of the past by 2020. With so much voice-activated software in our homes and a generation of young people raised on touchscreen devices, there may not be any need for them anymore. We’re already seeing touchscreen interfaces pop up everywhere. If you don’t believe us, check out any online slots website of your choosing and see the way they lay out and organize their online slots. This is an industry that generates tens of billions of dollars each year, and it’s rapidly moving away from desktop users and toward phone and tablet users. You no longer need to click buttons with a mouse to play online slots – you merely tap them with your finger and watch them spin. The influence of online slots on the wider internet is often underestimated. Other types of online businesses learn from those that make the most money, and as online slots make so much, changes that start there spread out and reach other places.

A Challenge To Movie Theaters

2020’s problems have accelerated a change that was probably going to happen gradually over the next decade. The televisions people have at home are, by and large, bigger than they were twenty years ago. Streaming allows people to watch movies on those televisions in glorious 4K with surround sound. There just isn’t as much reason to go to a movie theater as there used to be, and film companies know this. We’ve already seen some would-have-been-blockbuster films pushed to streaming without stopping at movie theaters beforehand within the past twelve months, and we’ll see more in 2021. Production companies don’t care where their films are watched so long as people are watching them, and the companies make money from those viewers. This is likely to become an existential threat to traditional movie theaters within the next year.

A Decision On Regulation

This is the biggest question hanging over the internet at the moment. Do the biggest companies online believe in free speech without restraint, or should they censor some content to protect vulnerable users and children? Do they have a responsibility to address lies, fake news, and falsehoods? Should it be harder for minors to access adult content? Do social media companies have the right to get involved in politics? This debate has bubbled away in the background for years, but the bitter nature of the 2020 US Presidential Election has thrust it into the spotlight, and it won’t go away again until someone decides whether the internet is a free-for-all or a place that needs better moderation.

A More Territorial Internet

2021 might be the year that the world wide web ceases to be the world wide web. We’ve already seen the United States of America attempting to block access to Chinese apps and websites. Many websites and resources are already blocked in places like China, North Korea, and Russia. The way the internet looks and feels in the western world is very different from the way it looks and feels in the east. As tit-for-tat bans and injunctions are leveled by one nation against another and back again, it might damage the potential of the internet as a global communication tool. If half the world can’t get access to a popular platform, they miss out on the conversations that happen there. If that trend continues, it could turn vast swathes of the internet into an insular echo chamber.

There will be more changes than the ones we’ve highlighted above. We also wouldn’t be surprised to see ‘live shopping’ establish itself and a greater role for cryptocurrency – and those two things might even be connected to each other. The mechanisms that will drive some of these changes have already started turning, and so these potentially huge changes are closer than anyone thinks. The role the internet plays in our lives will only grow bigger in the years to come – but it will evolve and change significantly to suit that new role.

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