GUEST ESSAY: The timing is ripe to instill trust in the open Internet — and why this must get done

By Hannah Aubry

In today’s digital age, trust has become a cornerstone of building a better Internet.

Preserving privacy for a greater good

The Internet was designed as a platform for peer research, not for the vast scale and diverse uses we see today. Over the decades, it’s grown in a way that has left it with many inherent vulnerabilities.

These vulnerabilities, not borne out of malice, were the result of choices made with limited information available at the time.

Fastly addresses these technological vulnerabilities by utilizing tools like Rust and WebAssembly. Leveraging WebAssembly’s sandboxing capabilities allows us to isolate potential risks, while Rust provides the memory safety essential for our modern internet applications.

Taming the human side

But the challenges facing the internet don’t just lie in its technical foundations. The societal aspects of technology, the human side, have grown equally unruly.

The trust deficit we experience today is palpable. People are wary of technology and its creators. Our major platforms, tools integral to modern life, are now used as vehicles for misinformation and chaos. A disconnect exists between those building technology and its end-users, often exacerbated by financial pressures and lack of proper oversight in the tech industry.

Despite this bleak landscape, there’s hope. We possess the tools to craft a better, more trustworthy internet. As we embark on a new era for the web, the foundation lies not just in what we build, but how we build.

The ethos? Openness, transparency, and collaboration. These principles drive better technological outcomes, ensuring an improved experience for all web users.

For many, open source stands as the embodiment of these ideals. While not all technology must be open source, perhaps it should be developed with the same spirit. Trust, after all, is foundational to the open source model. It hinges on community faith in institutions, and this trust, once broken, is painstaking to restore.

Transparent approach

Sharing a couple of personal experiences from my work in the open source community illustrates this concept. When I joined Fastly, I had the chance to recommit $50 million towards supporting open-source projects during the challenging times of the pandemic.

However, bureaucracy and inefficiencies had muddled our vision. The decision to pause our program in order to reimagine it was difficult and led to criticism. Yet, by taking a transparent approach, seeking feedback, and re-building collaboratively, we restored our trust within our open sourcecommunity, Fast Forward.

Related: Twitter users flock to Mastodon

Another enlightening experience emerged from my home instance, Fosstodon, on the decentralized social web (aka The Fediverse). Recently, a controversy arose due to their English-only policy, seen by many as exclusionary.


However, in response to the community’s concerns, Fosstodon’s administrators put the policy to a public vote. By opting for an open and collective decision-making process, they were able to retain the trust of their vast community, including mine.

Improved experiences

These stories serve as potent reminders. Trust in the technology realm is essential, and achieving it requires an open-source mindset. This approach calls for inclusion, clear communication, and cooperation. By granting all stakeholders not just a seat but a voice at the table, we create superior technology for users, preserving our communities’ vitality and improving overall web experiences.

Our ultimate goal is straightforward: develop both technical and human-centric systems that are intrinsically beneficial and trustworthy. From the core programming to the communities we build, let’s champion an Internet that stands as a beacon of trust and collaboration.

About the essayist: Hannah Aubry joined Fastly in 2020 as  Senior Community Manager of Fast Forward, Fastly’s $50 million commitment to support the open internet through open source projects and nonprofits like the Scratch Foundation, Kubernetes, and the Rust Foundation.

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