The Internet is also losing its biodiversity. With what consequences?

The online universe has been expanding steadily and unstoppably for nearly 25 years. In 2020, the number of  registered .com domains  alone surpassed 150 million.

Yet despite this growth, the digital world is becoming more concentrated around an ever-smaller number of organizations, which are centralizing an ever-increasing number of services in their hands.


 Digital “biodiversity” was recently analyzed by a team of Australian researchers, who, with the help of artificial intelligence, surveyed 18 billion online comments posted on Reddit and Twitter since 2006 and the links published accompanying these comments.

The analysis measured the uniqueness of links posted in comments with a coefficient between 0 (maximum diversity, each comment points to a different domain) and 1 (minimum diversity, all comments point to the same domain, e.g.

The results of the study are clear: 20 years ago, there was much more diversity on the web, with more than 20 different links for every 100 comments posted. In 2020, the researchers measured an average of only 5 different links for every 100 comments posted.

According to the study, in 2020, 60-70% of attention on major social media was focused on less than 10 areas.

The research also measured the structure of links that connect different websites together, analyzing more than 20 million connections over the last 3 years. It emerged that the world’s 1,000 most visited sites are gaining popularity month after month, at the expense of smaller, lesser-known sites.

But despite this, the web continues to be a fertile ground for innovation: every day new services, new applications and new products emerge, from messaging services to online shopping, from platforms for finding work to those for playing or working.


  The study also measured how the web has radically changed its vitality over the course of its history: if in 2011 40% of the sites created 5 years earlier were still active, in 2015 this percentage was reduced to 3.

The dynamics of digital competition therefore seem clear: in 25 years the web has changed profoundly and has lost most of its diversity, to the detriment of competition and the advantages of the network economy. It is not only the digital world that is paying the price, but also the real world, since they are two increasingly interconnected universes. How? The Internet is, among other things, also the first source of contacts for those who want to find work, go shopping, look for a house… If the content is in the hands of a few large companies, there is a risk of creating strong imbalances that in the long term will have consequences for the end user, but not only.

According to the researchers, it is therefore up to governments to promote the development of digital diversity, encouraging the emergence of ever new and innovative services capable of satisfying the still unresolved demands and needs of consumers. 

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